Train reservations

General cycling advice ( NOT technical ! )
st599_uk
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Re: Train reservations

Postby st599_uk » 19 Dec 2018, 1:52pm

I think I remember reading somewhere that there are 2 competing back-end systems for UK train bookings, one of which allows bike reservations, one which doesn't. Each TOC and reseller is signed up to one or other. To book a ticket with bikes on all stages requires the reseller and all of the train firms involved to use the one which allows bike reservations.

Can't find a link though.
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mjr
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Re: Train reservations

Postby mjr » 19 Dec 2018, 3:01pm

st599_uk wrote:I think I remember reading somewhere that there are 2 competing back-end systems for UK train bookings, one of which allows bike reservations, one which doesn't. Each TOC and reseller is signed up to one or other. To book a ticket with bikes on all stages requires the reseller and all of the train firms involved to use the one which allows bike reservations.

Can't find a link though.

I think that's misremembering that there are various competing web front-ends that all use the core services of the Rail Delivery Group (ORCATS, National Reservation Service and so on):

Cannot book bikes: Mixing Deck/Desk, thetrainline (thetrainline's help even tells you to phone up!), Booking Engine (used by Southern among others - recognisable by a big waste-of-screen map), raileasy and trainsCanBeCheaper.

Can book bikes: as far as I can tell, only the one now used by GWR and four others. See http://www.atob.org.uk/bike-rail/uk-bik ... vel-guide/ for a current list of which - do not use the "accessible" version link on GWR, else you end up back in Mixing Deck that can't book bikes.

While checking the current situation, I saw that http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/stations_ ... lists.aspx now says "If you are travelling with a bike and have purchased an Advance ticket for a train on which bikes are permitted but bike reservations are not possible, and there is no room for the bike on the booked train for the Advance ticket, then you can travel on the next train with the same ticket on which there is a bike space available" which I think is a recent change to policy, probably because of the reduction in companies letting you book bike spaces before tickets, but not really much help if no more trains that day have available bike spaces.
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The utility cyclist
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Re: Train reservations

Postby The utility cyclist » 19 Dec 2018, 5:44pm

brynpoeth wrote:I would certainly not un-sorn my vehicle for utility cyclists trip, does everything have to be measured in money and time? Even at Christmas - No! And what about the extra emissions?
I am a railway enthusiast and would be glad to have some time on Doncaster station, there must be a bit to see there :wink:

It wouldn't be one trip, it's about 6-7 a year up to Hull, importantly it would also cover cross country trips which are an absolute bind.
For example;
Letchworth Garden City to Tring and then on to my friend's house on the A41 means I have to go into London, cross to Euston (either via Finsbury Park or KX) then back out again to Bucks, a shade under 3 hours door to door and for the princely sum of £47, that's off peak at the weekend. The trip is 37 miles x 2. it takes 55-60 mins and approx £9 of diesel in my not particularly efficient car. I don't want to cycle it as it's often simply too far if my condition is giving me gyp and also it;s a night out in the evening followed by a ride Sunday morning, additionally the route isn't particularly nice in places. Bus is a non starter.

Then there are other journeys that I no longer do because bike is unfeasible/simply not possible, it's not many but it's enough to make you want to change things back to paying the extra cost overall so that not just social trips are significantly more effort/more cost (for some trips), but also other things like voluntary work, getting around with young grand-kids* that makes the consideration fall more onto putting the car back on the road.
It's not just about time/cost but that is important to some people (not you), it's about comfort, it's about convenience and not having to jump through hoops/have a lot of hassle and uncertainty, it's about some trips actually being doable at all and in some instances safety is a consideration also.

*My 5 year old grandson cycled 2 miles in significant wind and fairly heavy rain in October to get home, it was that or get cold waiting for a bus, walk and get cold/wet or taxi. it's times like that that I would have preferred to use car as it was bitterly cold and he did amazingly well all things considered.

I bought my 2001 Passat 13 years ago and was very lucky to get it virtually half the book price and there's no more depreciation on it, with everything including wear and tear parts averaged out - because tyres + brakes last me years due to low miles, VED (I do SORN it in the summer for 3 months at least), insurance, fuel, MOT cost, it works out to about £800 for 3000 miles. All but 5 miles of the 155 to my folks in each direction is on major A roads, 6 trips a year takes up 1860 miles (I'll do at least one per train even when I have the car), a couple of trips to Bucks, so as you can see I'm fairly sparing for other trips when I do have the car running.
I don't feel guilty using it as my first consideration has always been bike, since I was a teenager and that hasn't changed in 35 years.

AndyK
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Re: Train reservations

Postby AndyK » 19 Dec 2018, 6:08pm

The last two times I booked bikes on trains I used Twitter messaging to contact the operating company directly.

In GWR's case it was a free-form online chat and took just a few minutes to get a bike space reserved, before I'd bought the ticket.

Cross Country Trains actually recommends Twitter as a good way to book a bike space. Its Twitter dialogue was more structured: there was a button labelled "Make a cycle reservation", clicking on it triggered this automated reply:

Please note we can only reserve on CrossCountry services. We can reserve a maximum of two cycle spaces per train. Please include your full journey details including if you require one or two cycle spaces, the date of travel, departure and arrival station and departure time, along with your surname:

e.g. 1 cycle, today, 12:00 Stafford – Wolverhampton, smith.

We'll confirm whether your reservation has been successful or not within 30 minutes.

A quick message and a few minutes later, I got a reply from a real person confirming a bike space was booked on both outbound and return trains in my name - and again, I hadn't yet bought the train tickets. The reply even included a reminder of which coach I'd find the bike spaces in.

In many ways it's better than the online booking form: you're talking to a human being, you don't have to go through the stupid "reserve a seat in a totally different carriage" rigmarole, and you can make sure your bike space is secured before you buy your ticket. And it's definitely better than being stuck in a phone queue. But it does mean that if your journey takes in two different train operating companies, you have to contact them both.

mercalia
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Re: Train reservations

Postby mercalia » 20 Dec 2018, 8:15pm

TrevA wrote:If you're a regular train traveller isn't it worth investing in a Brompton? Then there's none of this hassle of booking your bike on the train.Taxing, insuring and servicing a car would be half the cost of a Brompton before you've even driven the thing.

We are currently a 2 car family but I'm seriously thinking of getting rid of one and getting a Brommie instead.

me and and also taking for free on buses

Littgull
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Re: Train reservations

Postby Littgull » 21 Dec 2018, 10:49am

mercalia wrote:
TrevA wrote:If you're a regular train traveller isn't it worth investing in a Brompton? Then there's none of this hassle of booking your bike on the train.Taxing, insuring and servicing a car would be half the cost of a Brompton before you've even driven the thing.

We are currently a 2 car family but I'm seriously thinking of getting rid of one and getting a Brommie instead.

me and and also taking for free on buses

Bromptons are great.I have one but although this is a solution for some, far better would be if Cycling UK effectively brought pressure to bear that resulted in the privatised train companies reversing their Draconian, punitive and discriminatory bike carrying policies. After all, why should owners of non bromptons have to feel obliged to fork out £1000+ to buy one simply because of the hideously anti bike carrying practices.

thirdcrank
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Re: Train reservations

Postby thirdcrank » 21 Dec 2018, 12:05pm

I can't imagine CyclingUK having any influence on Failing Grayling: nobody else representing the interests of passengers has managed it.

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TrevA
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Re: Train reservations

Postby TrevA » 21 Dec 2018, 3:04pm

Littgull wrote:
mercalia wrote:
TrevA wrote:If you're a regular train traveller isn't it worth investing in a Brompton? Then there's none of this hassle of booking your bike on the train.Taxing, insuring and servicing a car would be half the cost of a Brompton before you've even driven the thing.

We are currently a 2 car family but I'm seriously thinking of getting rid of one and getting a Brommie instead.

me and and also taking for free on buses

Bromptons are great.I have one but although this is a solution for some, far better would be if Cycling UK effectively brought pressure to bear that resulted in the privatised train companies reversing their Draconian, punitive and discriminatory bike carrying policies. After all, why should owners of non bromptons have to feel obliged to fork out £1000+ to buy one simply because of the hideously anti bike carrying practices.



Yes, you can wait ......and wait....... and wait some more for the bike/train policy to change. You might be waiting a very long time for new rolling stock to be deployed. In the meantime, you can moan about the bike/train policy or you can do something to get around it.

It's not impossible to take your normal bike on a train, I've done it many times, it's just challenging, especially if changes of train are involved.

brynpoeth
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Re: Train reservations

Postby brynpoeth » 21 Dec 2018, 3:14pm

Even in good conditions train travel with a cycle is a bit harder than without
Without a cycle one could walk to ones destination, or get a tram or even a taxi
Worth a bit of cost or time to avoid driving

Lots of people cycle to my train station :?, one time I couldnae find a place to park my cycle
So I took it on the train for €5.50 :wink:, the alternative was to find a place elsewhere, but then I would have missed my train, the next one is an hour later
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RickH
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Re: Train reservations

Postby RickH » 22 Dec 2018, 11:44am

TrevA wrote:It's not impossible to take your normal bike on a train, I've done it many times, it's just challenging, especially if changes of train are involved.

By & large I find that it isn't the bike (& getting it on the train, even when I've got the tandem) that's the, occasional, problem with connecting trains. It's mainly delays meaning missing (tight) connections. It doesn't happen often but is a nuisance when it does. These days I generally prefer a route with a longer cycle but no train changes where that is an option.

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Re: Train reservations

Postby djnotts » 23 Dec 2018, 8:54am

Very limited experience, but just the one return journey Nottingham to Tywyn convinced me that a Brompton only sensible answer. I had booked a cycle reservation for the services (2 changes on out, 4 on return) on which possible because I was undecided which bike to take. On one of the return legs, had I taken a full size then because of over-crowding I simply could not have boarded the train to access my "reserved" space. Having taken the Brommie, fought my way on like everyone else. Changing trains also much easier.

Oldjohnw
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Re: Train reservations

Postby Oldjohnw » 23 Dec 2018, 9:10am

Trouble is, some of us go camping and don't have folding bikes.
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Huck
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Re: Train reservations

Postby Huck » 26 Dec 2018, 3:21am

East Midlands Trains told me last year that I could book a cycle online, I've still not found out how, if anyone could help please do so.

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Re: Train reservations

Postby PH » 26 Dec 2018, 9:24am

Huck wrote:East Midlands Trains told me last year that I could book a cycle online, I've still not found out how, if anyone could help please do so.

I don't think you can through their website, but you can book EMT with the others linked above.

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john4703
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Re: Train reservations

Postby john4703 » 27 Dec 2018, 8:27pm

TrevA wrote:
Littgull wrote:Yes, you can wait ......and wait....... and wait some more for the bike/train policy to change. You might be waiting a very long time for new rolling stock to be deployed. In the meantime, you can moan about the bike/train policy or you can do something to get around it.


Most of my travel is in Scotrail who allow bikes on all trains without reservations or on Virgin West Coast who do not allow unbooked bikes. Virgin do allow any number of huge cases and rucksacks etc so what is needed is a simple change of policy. They should allow two pieces of luggage per passenger, not three or four cases but one bike and one rucksack.
Don't let them win but keep up the struggle and wear them all down by our persistence.