Eurostar not accepting CTC plastic bike bags

Cycle-touring, Expeditions, Adventures, Major cycle routes NOT LeJoG (see other special board)
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frank9755
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Eurostar not accepting CTC plastic bike bags

Post by frank9755 »

My bike, dismantled and packed in my CTC plastic bike bag, was refused entry to the Eurostar today. There were dozens of bikes in fabric bike bags which were allowed on as carry-on luggage.

I tried to explain to Gary, the chap who seems to run the place, that the CTC bag was indeed a bike bag but he insisted, with no supporting evidence or logic, that plastic bags were not allowed. He couldn't specify where it actually said that, or why a plastic bag was in some way different to a fabric one of the same dimensions, but I didn't get anywhere. I didn't have the page from the CTC website which explains that it is a bike bag but I doubt it would have helped.

I was able to get it on the freight service on the same train so my journey was not screwed up, but it was still annoying - mainly because I dismantled the bike to carry it on for no purpose.

Was I just unlucky? Has anyone managed to get a CTC bag on Eurostar, or is it now a no-go area?
tramponabike
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Re: Eurostar not accepting CTC plastic bike bags

Post by tramponabike »

I haven't used them myself.

Have you contacted Eurostar customer services? Unless it's a discretionary thing on boarding there must be some specs somewhere in their T&C's defining what they think constitutes a bike bag.
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frank9755
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Re: Eurostar not accepting CTC plastic bike bags

Post by frank9755 »

Yes, the complaint has gone in.

Their site only says 'a bike bag', not that it shalt not be made of polythene!

I'll report back. I hope that by complaining I can get things clarified and help others in future.
MartinBrice
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Re: Eurostar not accepting CTC plastic bike bags

Post by MartinBrice »

I went last May on Eurostar with my bike dismantled and in a fabric bag. My mate did the same but used that weed suppressant stuff you buy in garden centres. They did exactly the same job as your CTC plastic bag, the only difference being they were not transparent. TBH I found Eurostar not cheap, unhelpful, dingy, and on the way back the train didn't stop at Ebbsflett and went straight through to St Pancras. Once there they refused to allow us to get on one of their own trains going directly to er, Ebbsfleet and insisted we carted the damned things through crowds of many thousands so their manager could buy us tickets to Ebbsfleet on the high-speed train. I have often wondered about going across on the ferry and buying a train ticket from Calais. I can't see it being any more difficult than using Eurostar.
Gloves
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Re: Eurostar not accepting CTC plastic bike bags

Post by Gloves »

frank9755 wrote:Yes, the complaint has gone in.

Their site only says 'a bike bag', not that it shalt not be made of polythene!

I'll report back. I hope that by complaining I can get things clarified and help others in future.


That is crazy Frank. I'm glad your trip wasnt ruined though.

I would be interested to hear the outcome of this as I'm planning on taking my bike on the Eurostar next year.
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frank9755
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Re: Eurostar not accepting CTC plastic bike bags

Post by frank9755 »

I've got a prompt and satisfactory reply from Eurostar. They have apologised and more or less agreed to my requests.

They say that Gary, the person in Paris who has an irrational hatred of CTC plastic bike bags, will be re-briefed to ensure that he is aware of the policy. I will take my copy of their email with me when I go again next month. I'd advise anyone else to follow CJ's advice and print out both the relevant page from the Eurostar site and the pdf page which confirms that the CTC bag is a bike bag.

I'll report on how I'd get on. I'd also be interested in others' experiences!
toontra
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Re: Eurostar not accepting CTC plastic bike bags

Post by toontra »

Nice work Frank! It's the bloody haphazardness of this that makes it so stressful. You would think that a supposedly reputable company would have standardised rules which were known and adhered to by all staff. This kind of nonsense can ruin expensive and well-planned holidays through no fault of the cycle-owner (having done all the proper research and planning in advance).

BTW is your return trip to Paris for Paris-Brest-Paris by any chance? I'm paying the exorbitant £30 surcharge to take my bike compete on the same train I'm travelling on as I don't want to spend ages setting up the notoriously fickle Ultegra gears when I get there.
Last edited by toontra on 27 Jul 2011, 2:24pm, edited 1 time in total.
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frank9755
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Re: Eurostar not accepting CTC plastic bike bags

Post by frank9755 »

toontra wrote:BTW is your return trip to Paris for Paris-Brest-Paris by any chance?


Yes it is, and I expect to be a bit tired when I come back, so in no mood for hassle!
toontra
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Re: Eurostar not accepting CTC plastic bike bags

Post by toontra »

frank9755 wrote:
toontra wrote:BTW is your return trip to Paris for Paris-Brest-Paris by any chance?


Yes it is, and I expect to be a bit tired when I come back, so in no mood for hassle!


I expect to be in a state where I won't take any nonsense from "Gary" :wink:
geocycle
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Re: Eurostar not accepting CTC plastic bike bags

Post by geocycle »

Great to hear you got a response. I'm using them tomorrow and paying the £30 supplement. Does anyone know where to check the bikes in at Gare du Nord? It isn't well marked on the station plan?
UncleChris
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Re: Eurostar not accepting CTC plastic bike bags

Post by UncleChris »

Great to hear you got a response. I'm using them tomorrow and paying the £30 supplement. Does anyone know where to check the bikes in at Gare du Nord? It isn't well marked on the station plan?


It's not much better when you get there. In London it's the Euro Dispatch Centre but it's got some other name at Gare du Nord, which escapes me now. Upon entering the station from the front entrance, imagine a clockface and the office you want in at 10 o clock, down the side of platform...2? Maybe it's 2. It's next to the station's police station anyway.

Our experience of bikes on Eurostar wasn't fantastic. We'd been assured on the phone that we could put them on panniers and all, then when we got to St Pancras they denied this. We dug our heels in and eventually they agreed to give us a parcel bag for them and they carried them at no extra cost. Then on the return journey we got them booked on and paid for no problem but our jaws dropped at the way they were manhandled when we looked down to see them being loaded onto the train from the balcony once we'd checked in. Sure enough, some minor cosmetic damage was easily detected.

We didn't enjoy the experience much at all overall. The carriages were crowded with feeble parents unable to control their revolting feral children, it was boiling hot, dirty, no legroom, ugly interior and all things inbetween. The one saving grace is that it is of course a two and a half hour rail link between London and Paris...
toontra
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Re: Eurostar not accepting CTC plastic bike bags

Post by toontra »

UncleChris wrote:We didn't enjoy the experience much at all overall. The carriages were crowded with feeble parents unable to control their revolting feral children, it was boiling hot, dirty, no legroom, ugly interior and all things inbetween. The one saving grace is that it is of course a two and a half hour rail link between London and Paris...


You're right. For what purports to be a state-of-the-art transport network it is anything but - more like cattle trucks. Poorly designed, very little space for either people or luggage and already very shabby. Altogether a horrible, claustrophobic experience.
hoogerbooger
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Re: Eurostar not accepting CTC plastic bike bags

Post by hoogerbooger »

Top Stuff -for addressing the CTC bag issue.

Yes at Gare Du Nord - as you face the platforms go to the far left platform ( so that all rail track is on your right and then keep walking along the platform & beyond. You seemingly walk out of the main station and wiggle through a back of building space until you pass an entrance in from road on your left. The building immediately after that on your left is the office you need. It'll have part loaded and unloaded trailers outside to be transported up to the trains.

I have used Eurostar with and without a bike bag ( not a CTC plastic one tho) and ( dare I say it) found them laid back but fine.

I have concluded it's not worth the financial saving taking the bike apart and bagging.

The first time I had bikes bagged. It was a faff carrying bagged bikes and 6 panniers ( bagged in 2 holdalls) through check in and along platform to the train. It's a bit of a scrum trying to find a space for put big bags. I was lucky and a guard directed me to a carriage with an extra large luggage rack which was large enough for a bagged bike ( with both wheels off). I got there first and put both bikes on it.

From Gare Du Nord we needed to get to Gare D'Austerlitz for the Lunea Corail sleeper service to Bayonne. At Gare Du Nord finding a Taxi that would take two bikes and us was difficult & I had to stand in front of a Renault Espace taxi and more or less force the driver to take us. The driver told us that they are not supposed to carry bikes - but fortunately he did ( for 20 Euro - i.e half the saving by not bagging).

The second time in bags it was a big scrum with all passengers trying to find a space to put the bikes.I ended up doing two trips down the carriages dragging bike bags past mayhem to find somewhere to put them.

last time I resisted the calling of my half Scottish blood and booked & paid the money to transport bikes whole on Eurostar ( & Lunea Corail). Yes the office you take the bikes to at Paddington is totally the opposite side of the station to the passanger Eurostar check-in BUT as long as you have a light holdall to keep your panniers together it was comparative bliss to cycle to Paddington, hand over the bikes, walk across the station, check-in, get on the train. Paris is bliss to cycle round, just plan your route before you get there and allow time.

(However if you get caught up in French train strikes, you may still find you need a bike bag !!!!! - Anyone managed to use a CTC poly bag on a TGV ?[/b] - Like Lunea Corail, you couldn't then book a bike on un-bagged unless you do this at the same time you book a ticket , which means you have to book by phone via Rail Europe ( google it)

All good fun !!
hoogerbooger
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Re: Eurostar not accepting CTC plastic bike bags

Post by hoogerbooger »

Oops trying to get on at Paddington could be a problem !! Try St Pancras !
geocycle
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Re: Eurostar not accepting CTC plastic bike bags

Post by geocycle »

Thanks all, that's really helpful advice regarding eurostar. I'll report back.
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