Booking trains more than 12 weeks in advance

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Booking trains more than 12 weeks in advance

Postby Runnerlister » 10 May 2010, 3:50pm

I want to take 2 bikes on the train from the North of England to London, thence via Eurostar/Eurotunnel to mainland Europe, in the autumn.
In view of the chaotic and limited availability of bike space on trains in the UK, I want to book as early as possible. Indeed, National Rail recommend booking bike places "as far in advance as posssible", a reflection perhaps of the small number of places on offer.
I've tried before, and have failed, because the system does not seem to allow booking more than 12 weeks in advance.
I have in past years given up, choosing instead to drive to an airport with the bikes on the rack, leaving the car at the airport and flying to Europe with our bikes, having booked months in advance. Hardly a green alternative.
We would prefer to use the more environmentally friendly option, but are not keen to defer trying to book when so few bike spaces are available: I'm not going to leave the transport of the bikes to chance.
It was so much easier when there was only one train company and we piled our bikes and the kids' bikes in the guard's van and secured them with a bungee or two . . . .
Any ideas, please?

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Re: Booking trains more than 12 weeks in advance

Postby robgul » 10 May 2010, 4:04pm

Nope. You simply cannot book trains more than 12 weeks (and then sometimes not even then) ahead - they say the timetables/engineering works etc are agreed on a 12 week basis.

The only real solution is if you can take your bike as "luggage" (and the 12 week rule still applies for booking seats) - luggage can mean a "bike case" (big hard-shell thing), a cardboard box that new bikes come in (from the LBS) or a "bike bag" (giant soft holdall) - in each case the bike will need some disassembly.

For our Boys' Outings if there is likely to be a train issue we have a large sheet of garden weed membrane and a roll of tape to make a "parcel" of the bike, again front wheel (at very least) removed.

Not satisfactory by any means ... but possible


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Re: Booking trains more than 12 weeks in advance

Postby aide555 » 10 May 2010, 4:22pm

and just to add.....

I ordered my ticket with cycle pass from cross country trains and guess what it came without?? Yes no cycle pass

Thankfully my friendly station (hurrah Burton on trent) came up trumps

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Re: Booking trains more than 12 weeks in advance

Postby birkhead » 14 May 2010, 10:52pm

We [twa] are travelling by train from Aberdeen to Paris and returning from Lyon to Aberdeen, after a wee hilly audax over the alps in order to join a group tour in Tuscany. All tix now booked with CIX to link them up. After checking out prices via the East Coast website, we had an email prompt when booking opened, and then we booked on phone through same vendor each of 5 single stages as soon as they became available, asking for the magic CIX to be added to the tix in order to link the journeys in case of failure of 1 section. UK is on sale 3 months in advance, Eurostar 5 months, France 4 months. We now have bike bags [housse] made from ripstop nylon + strap weighing 400g each, required for the duplex TGV in France, and it will save us £100 in Eurostar bike charges too [just bought a Lezyne pump to compensate for the extra weight of the bag :D ]. Total cost of return trip in June is £140 for 2, ie £70 each.
If you want to check out bike reservations on uk trains, use the EastCoast website, and at the end of the booking proces you will find an option in the seat reservations section to book a bike. And it worked for me on a recent trip involving both a Scotrail and an EastCoast train.