The basics of taking a bike on a UK train

Cycle-touring, Expeditions, Adventures, Major cycle routes NOT LeJoG (see other special board)
tramponabike
Posts: 322
Joined: 19 Jun 2011, 11:17pm

Re: The basics of taking a bike on a UK train

Postby tramponabike » 24 Jun 2011, 1:36pm

Malaconotus wrote:I notice that the tale of woe above concerned travelling longer distances with an open return ticket, which made booking a bike for a specific train very difficult. I can see how and why that might be complicated. All my longer jaunts have been pre-booked to get substantially discounted fares; knowing exactly which train I'll be on weeks in advance seems to help, although I appreciate for many this degree of planning is difficult or inconvenient.

I'm off to Arran for three days on Tuesday; starting from home in Leeds the total cost of all train travel, ferry, and accommodation for my trip will be under £50. I expect the travel part to be as trouble-free as all my other bikes on trains experiences have been.


Correct M. I can also confirm that I haven't had problems when fully pre booked and have also found guards on Transpennine and Settle - Carlisle trains very accommodating. Once even allowing a tandem on!

It does apear though that there is no working provision in place to reliably book a bike on an open return.

Your £50 trip to Arran sounds amazing though. I would be grateful for any tips on achieving similar if you have the time. My journey from hell cost me nearly £70. Even I would be willing to sacrifice spontenaeity for such a saving. Hope you have a good trip.

geocycle
Posts: 1728
Joined: 11 Jan 2007, 9:46am

Re: The basics of taking a bike on a UK train

Postby geocycle » 24 Jun 2011, 2:37pm

tramponabike wrote:It does apear though that there is no working provision in place to reliably book a bike on an open return.



Yes, that's the rub. It really limits sponteneity. I've never had a problem when I have booked on specific trains but have had long waits at stations when I have arrived early and white-knuckle rides when arriving late. Once when travelling from Berwick I phoned East Coast from some moors in Northumberland, gave all the details and picked the tickets including bike reservation from a machine at the station. I'm not sure how close to the point of travel you can do this.

Malaconotus
Posts: 1842
Joined: 30 Jul 2010, 11:31pm
Location: Chapel Allerton, Leeds

Re: The basics of taking a bike on a UK train

Postby Malaconotus » 24 Jun 2011, 7:48pm

geocycle wrote: Once when travelling from Berwick I phoned East Coast from some moors in Northumberland, gave all the details and picked the tickets including bike reservation from a machine at the station. I'm not sure how close to the point of travel you can do this.


When you book online it tells you to collect in no less than two hours, and I would expect a phone booking to be a similar delay for the information to propagate across the network and to be accessible by the ticket machines. I have no idea whether it might work in less time than that. Presumably it could on occasion as I guess there must somewhere be a two-hourly update somewhere.

Malaconotus
Posts: 1842
Joined: 30 Jul 2010, 11:31pm
Location: Chapel Allerton, Leeds

Re: The basics of taking a bike on a UK train

Postby Malaconotus » 24 Jun 2011, 8:14pm

tramponabike wrote:Your £50 trip to Arran sounds amazing though. I would be grateful for any tips on achieving similar if you have the time. My journey from hell cost me nearly £70. Even I would be willing to sacrifice spontenaeity for such a saving. Hope you have a good trip.


Thanks. The trick, as I have posted elsewhere previously, is to use the trainline's best fare finder, or similar, for each leg of the journey between major named cities, and to buy separate tickets for each leg, each of which can be discounted more than the end-to-end journey.

You first have to find all the possible routes by searching for the end to end journey and clicking through to see the route and changes. The trains with most changes are the best because the journey can break into multiple legs for multiple discounts (e.g. Leeds Lancaster via the Settle-Carlisle direct, slow, non-changing line can never be as cheap as Leeds - Manchester plus Manchester - Lancaster)

For example, I am also doing Whitby to Bridlington by bike, and then a day tour of East Yorkshire and the Wolds, later in the year which I have booked as Leeds - Middlesbrough, Middlesbrough - Whitby, Bridlington - Hull, Hull - Leeds, coupled with two nights in Hull Travelodge at £10 a night. Total cost again under £50.

I live nearer Headingley station than Leeds city station but I would never search on or book from Headingley as the same discounts would not be shown.

It is enormously time consuming as you have to find all the possible routes and break them down at each change, and you have to focus on trains departing very early mornings, very late evenings, or early afternoon, six or more weeks in advance, but amazing deals can be had. The Arran trip is helped by the low cost of camping (£4 or £5 a night) and the cheap ferry from Ardrossan (£10 return with bike)

tramponabike
Posts: 322
Joined: 19 Jun 2011, 11:17pm

Re: The basics of taking a bike on a UK train

Postby tramponabike » 24 Jun 2011, 9:07pm

Thanks for that Malaconotus. I will try to apply some of that advice when I can. I don't think I will come close to your organisational skills though.

Even booking in advance I would have fallen for Leeds - Whitby £32. Brid - Hull £11.80. Hull - Leeds £6.50. Over £50! In effect they are paying for your 2 nights in the Travelodge. (but I wouldn't hold that against them ;) )

(With your attention to detail I am sure you have already considered NCN1 Whitby - Scarborough and NCN65 Horsea - Hull?)

sjs
Posts: 731
Joined: 24 Jan 2010, 10:08pm
Location: Hitchin

Re: The basics of taking a bike on a UK train

Postby sjs » 26 Jun 2011, 11:10am

In theory you could break the journey into separate legs between any stations the train stops at, not just between changes. For N stops how many possible fare combinations to check? Could be quite time consuming to find an absolute minimum total fare for a given journey. And might result in quite a thick wad of tickets and bike reservations.