Chiltern railways - bikes - in practice

General cycling advice ( NOT technical ! )
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Sweep
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Chiltern railways - bikes - in practice

Postby Sweep » 31 Aug 2018, 5:46pm

Anyone know what they are like?

They have some good fixed price tickets on fixed trains London Marylebone to Birmingham.

The rules on which trains are no go for bikes are clear.

When it comes to a fixed train ticket it is clearly vital that your bike can go with you or the ticket is effectively scrap.

Guidance seems to say it is down to space availability/discretion of staff.

I know that many companies say this and that in practice they are very human/easy going so no great problem.

Is Chiltern like this?
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Re: Chiltern railways - bikes - in practice

Postby mjr » 31 Aug 2018, 5:54pm

I've travelled on their Clubman express commuter trains on London-Oxfordshire routes a couple of times. Class 168 I think - one generation before the Turbostars. They're mostly fitted out with 3-aisle-2 high-density seating but have a wide area near some of the doors created by the "middle" seat being missing where you can stand a couple of bikes up. They might use something else on London-Birmingham. Edit: it seems from checking photos that I may be thinking of 165s with the 3-aisle-2 layout while 168s are 2-aisle-2 since the last refurbishment and I'm not sure they have any wide luggage space, so you might be shuffling the bike between doorways all journey.

I had no trouble getting my bike on or off but I don't think I saw any staff the whole journey so can't comment on their bike-friendliness. Only ticket check was the barriers in London.
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Re: Chiltern railways - bikes - in practice

Postby PH » 31 Aug 2018, 6:28pm

I use that line a few times, if booking at short notice it's considerably cheaper than the direct train from Derby. I take a folder because that's the bike I want with me in London, though I don't think I've ever needed to fold it. It's the sort of train where you can sit with your bike, so i could have folded it if anyone got on needing the space.
Sweep wrote:When it comes to a fixed train ticket it is clearly vital that your bike can go with you or the ticket is effectively scrap.

My understanding is that if they don't let you on the booked train, they have to let you on the next available one and you can use the same ticket.

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Re: Chiltern railways - bikes - in practice

Postby mjr » 31 Aug 2018, 6:35pm

PH wrote:My understanding is that if they don't let you on the booked train, they have to let you on the next available one and you can use the same ticket.

Exactly correct, although I think "available" can mean "enough space for cyclists". Second bullet point on http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/stations_ ... lists.aspx
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Re: Chiltern railways - bikes - in practice

Postby robgul » 31 Aug 2018, 9:10pm

As a fairly frequent Chiltern user on the Birmingham - London line with a bike I've yet to have a problem (and we have had a group of 9 with bikes on the same train, spread along the carriages!) Obviously there are time restrictions for rush hour etc ... and the staff all seem very helpful.

There are two sorts of train in use: "Tube train style" with sliding doors (I think they used to call them Turbos) that have an accessible area for wheelchairs and bikes ... as well as the doorways being good for parking bikes. "InterCity style trains) - older style with hinged opening doors - they too have accessible area and some have a "guards van" area.

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Re: Chiltern railways - bikes - in practice

Postby Sweep » 1 Sep 2018, 11:52am

Thanks folks.

They sound very civilised.

I take it from reading their bike policy here:

https://www.chilternrailways.co.uk/cust ... -your-bike

that bike bookings are not possible.

That you just turn up with your pre-booked person ticket and the bike and that you are very likely to be accommodated as long as you travel in the permitted periods?
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Re: Chiltern railways - bikes - in practice

Postby Sweep » 1 Sep 2018, 11:57am

edit:

Just found in their excellent FAQs, this:

Do I need to reserve a space for my bike on the train?
No, we do not offer bicycle reservations, we operate on a first come first serve basis and subject to space being available.

Full FAQs here.

https://www.chilternrailways.co.uk/faq/cycling

I do like the sound of them.

And Marylebone is such a cute station.

Can see myself waving goodbye to Virgin on the London Birmingham route.
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Re: Chiltern railways - bikes - in practice

Postby PH » 1 Sep 2018, 12:39pm

Sweep wrote:And Marylebone is such a cute station.

As is Moor St at the other end.
There's some real bargains to be had, I think the cheapest I've paid is £6 Birmingham to London

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Re: Chiltern railways - bikes - in practice

Postby Si » 1 Sep 2018, 3:39pm

I've a friend who often uses the service, brum to london, off peak - he reports never having any issues.

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Re: Chiltern railways - bikes - in practice

Postby markjohnobrien » 1 Sep 2018, 7:52pm

I've used Chiltern hundreds of times from Risborough to Wembley or Marylebone and back and never had a problem. The key is get on the train first, as first come first served, and ideally get the space next to the toilet ahead of the hordes behind you.

I once waited for a train at Wembley (after a Wembley event concert) and knew roughly where the bike carriage (next to toilet) would stop. I ensured I was first through the door (politely of course) and bagged the space. Bliss - as it was standing room only once the Wembley crowd had got on.

I've never been asked to move my bike by train staff.

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Re: Chiltern railways - bikes - in practice

Postby mercalia » 1 Sep 2018, 11:03pm

I think Chiltern are like Southern? no bike reservations? first come first served? I have been to Stratford upon Avon/Leamington Spa a number of times a favourite trip of mine as the return advanced tickets are cheap even just a few days before the journey. With a railcard about £7 or so return? I like Marylebone station just have a quiet laugh at those funny costumes worn by the Bicester staff :lol:

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Re: Chiltern railways - bikes - in practice

Postby 1982john » 1 Sep 2018, 11:36pm

The only problem with Chiltern is that -like some other services - the bike space doubles up as disabled seats & next to the toilets. Usually, if you're not the first stop the people whose crazy idea of fun to sit by smelly toilets will be sitting in them (even when the train is half full).

So you may end up having to use the doorway until they clear which is ok unless the side that's getting off keeps changing!

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Re: Chiltern railways - bikes - in practice

Postby PH » 1 Sep 2018, 11:40pm

1982john wrote:The only problem with Chiltern is that -like some other services - the bike space doubles up as disabled seats & next to the toilets. Usually, if you're not the first stop the people whose crazy idea of fun to sit by smelly toilets will be sitting in them (even when the train is half full).

So you may end up having to use the doorway until they clear which is ok unless the side that's getting off keeps changing!

Don't you just ask them to move? People tend to sit there for the leg room and maybe don't realise it's the bike space. I wouldn't ask if there weren't alternative seats but have never been turned down when there are.

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Re: Chiltern railways - bikes - in practice

Postby 1982john » 1 Sep 2018, 11:55pm

PH wrote:
1982john wrote:The only problem with Chiltern is that -like some other services - the bike space doubles up as disabled seats & next to the toilets. Usually, if you're not the first stop the people whose crazy idea of fun to sit by smelly toilets will be sitting in them (even when the train is half full).

So you may end up having to use the doorway until they clear which is ok unless the side that's getting off keeps changing!

Don't you just ask them to move? People tend to sit there for the leg room and maybe don't realise it's the bike space. I wouldn't ask if there weren't alternative seats but have never been turned down when there are.


If I was doing a long journey like Bham to London I would but my usual Chiltern journey is only 10-15 mins so I tend to just wait it out. Either way it's never a stress free ride as like it might be with Xcountry or Virgin as you need to keep an eye on it as there's no straps or a disabled passanger might be getting on.

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Re: Chiltern railways - bikes - in practice

Postby PH » 2 Sep 2018, 12:02am

1982john wrote:
PH wrote:
1982john wrote:The only problem with Chiltern is that -like some other services - the bike space doubles up as disabled seats & next to the toilets. Usually, if you're not the first stop the people whose crazy idea of fun to sit by smelly toilets will be sitting in them (even when the train is half full).

So you may end up having to use the doorway until they clear which is ok unless the side that's getting off keeps changing!

Don't you just ask them to move? People tend to sit there for the leg room and maybe don't realise it's the bike space. I wouldn't ask if there weren't alternative seats but have never been turned down when there are.


If I was doing a long journey like Bham to London I would but my usual Chiltern journey is only 10-15 mins so I tend to just wait it out. Either way it's never a stress free ride as like it might be with Xcountry or Virgin as you need to keep an eye on it as there's no straps or a disabled passanger might be getting on.

Fair enough, on a short trip I probably wouldn't bother either.