New bike restriction on Eurostar

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ChrisButch
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New bike restriction on Eurostar

Postby ChrisButch » 16 Jan 2013, 9:07pm

I've only just come across this piece on the Man in Seat 61 website.

Although it's only a month old, I don't remember seeing anything about this here or indeed elsewhere in the cycling press.

Eurostar's new (well, 2008) bike service, where you can book a bike space on the same Eurostar departure as yourself for £30, has been a great success. But as an alternative, you've always been able to take bikes free of charge as ordinary luggage, semi-dismantled in a zip-up bike bag not exceeding 120cm long, which you are allowed to do on almost all European trains right across Europe. Eurostar has now removed the ability to take bikes in bags up to 120cm and is sticking to its general '85cm maximum length' policy for any luggage at all, which pretty much rules out taking anything except folding Bromptons and children's bikes. This is totally at odds with the policy of onwards train operators such as Thalys, Elipsos and most TGV, where you can ONLY take your bike if you put it in a bike bag, semi-dismantled, max 120cm long. And this is in spite of Eurostar and Thalys both being 85% owned by SNCF (French Railways), TGV is of course 100% SNCF, so even train companies within the same group aren't working or thinking together as a team. Does Eurostar expect you to pay £30 to take your bike undismantled to Brussels, and in the 18 minutes connecting time, take it to pieces, stick it in a bike bag that you've brought with you, to take onwards to Cologne or Amsterdam?

The previous policy seems to have been interpreted pretty liberally - I've seen many bike bags longer than 120cm on Eurostar, and indeed few bags are that short. But this seems a big step back.

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robgul
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Re: New bike restriction on Eurostar

Postby robgul » 16 Jan 2013, 9:47pm

There have been 3 or 4 threads on a couple of other boards (and here, I think) on this topic.

I understand from a friend who went through St Pancras last week that Eurostar is now measuring bags and weeding out oversize stuff.

What your quote doesn't mention is the "registered luggage" option for oversize stuff. They put the bag in the "guard's van" and charge you £25 ... it's also slightly vague about guaranteeing that your item is on the same train as the passenger ....

The "wheel it on" bike process does guarantee that the bike goes on the train with you - you check it in (having booked and paid £30 .. each way) and they load it .... at the other end you can collect it on the platform.

[I am about to book 13 bike spaces from Paris to London in June - max of 8 per train so we're on two consecutive trains. I'll report back on the booking process ... and the actual experience when we get back]

The real issue with the Eurostar trains when compared with TGV etc is that the carriages are much more cramped on Eurostar with more seats jammed in .. and capacity is high - I've yet to travel on a TGV that wasn't at least 40% unoccupied.

Rob
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vernon
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Re: New bike restriction on Eurostar

Postby vernon » 16 Jan 2013, 9:49pm

There are alternative solutions....

Amsterdam there's a service that Involves a train from Liverpool Street to harwich, a ferry to Hook of Holland and a train to Amsterdam.

Catch an earlier Eurostar to increase the transfer time at Brussels.

When given a bag of lemons make lemonade.....

PDQ
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Re: New bike restriction on Eurostar

Postby PDQ » 16 Jan 2013, 10:12pm

It all sounds absolutely crazy to me. Why the hell couldn't they provide a good sized compartment with hanging hooks dedicated to bikes,trikes buggys, tandems recumbents etc on a few trains per day. Bike and train is such a fantastic option but is totally spoiled by all the unnecessary hoops and hurdles.
Do these people(the managers) have any clue about running a people friendly and hence profitable, business at all??
I thought transportation of bikes was written into the franchise.

I am going by road. But sadly.

vernon
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Re: New bike restriction on Eurostar

Postby vernon » 16 Jan 2013, 10:38pm

PDQ wrote:It all sounds absolutely crazy to me. Why the hell couldn't they provide a good sized compartment with hanging hooks dedicated to bikes,trikes buggys, tandems recumbents etc on a few trains per day. Bike and train is such a fantastic option but is totally spoiled by all the unnecessary hoops and hurdles.
Do these people(the managers) have any clue about running a people friendly and hence profitable, business at all??
I thought transportation of bikes was written into the franchise.

I am going by road. But sadly.


People moving is more profitable than bike moving.......

They are transporting bikes - I doubt that the francise was proscriptive when it comes to the method of conveyance.

Eurostar do provide a reasonable service for bikes albeit at a higher price than their fellow European rail companies.

nirakaro
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Re: New bike restriction on Eurostar

Postby nirakaro » 17 Jan 2013, 12:17pm

Very tiresome, especially after spending eighty quid on a bike bag that I’d hoped to use more than once. However, to be fair to Eurostar, their trains, built to the UK loading gauge, are much more cramped than TGVs, and my bike, in its regulation bag, did fill an alarming amount of the luggage rack. And I guess cyclists form a tiny proportion of their clientele!
Some TGVs, at least, will carry whole bikes. But I’m still looking for a way to get one to (or back from) Italy…

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CJ
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Re: New bike restriction on Eurostar

Postby CJ » 17 Jan 2013, 2:06pm

According to www.eurostar4agents.com, this restriction came in with some other new baggage rules on the 1st December 2012. Eurostar didn't tell CTC though.

Eurostar have updated most of their pages to reflect this change, but they've missed this one, which still has the old dimensions. So you could always try printing that out, dated of course, on the same day as you buy your ticket. Technically the baggage conditions are part of your contract with Eurostar and the conditions they advertise at the time of booking are what counts. However I think the best you're likely to achieve by that tactic is a waiving of the £25 fee as your bike is instead sent by registered baggage anyway, and only on the outward journey.

Already last summer the staff at Gare du Nord were picking on those they decided didn't look enough like real bike bags in order to get as many bikes as possible out of the passenger compartment and into registered baggage instead. The Wiggins effect perhaps? Complaints from other passengers about the amount of space taken up by large bike bags has clearly triggered this rule change. I observe that some sports are more equal than others though: skis and snowboards longer than 85cm may still be taken on board.
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PDQ
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Re: New bike restriction on Eurostar

Postby PDQ » 17 Jan 2013, 2:33pm

vernon wrote:People moving is more profitable than bike moving.......

They are transporting bikes - I doubt that the francise was proscriptive when it comes to the method of conveyance.

Eurostar do provide a reasonable service for bikes albeit at a higher price than their fellow European rail companies.


Not if those people have bikes and choose to travel another way.
I say they do not provide a reasonable service if they can't transport a bike easily and cheaply. If others can do it why not us? They provide an over bureaucratic, over priced, crowded, inflexible transport option described as a service.

Personally I've had enough of being told how great things are for cyclists by the likes of Boris and his mates when clearly things are not good at all.They have the power to change the franchise deal but lack the imagination and the balls to do it. So little has been achieved.
Things are crap, especially on the railways . Call a spade a spade.

I'm going by road.But sadly :(

willem jongman
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Re: New bike restriction on Eurostar

Postby willem jongman » 17 Jan 2013, 8:25pm

For many destinations the Harwich to Hook of Holland ferry is a much better option. From Holland you can take the splendid German Intercity Nightline trains to such places as Basel (and onwards into Italy), Copenhagen, Vienna or Prague. There are even a few (not many) options to travel to France. Bikes on High Speed trains are a problem in most countries, even if the European Parliament is fighting hard on behalf of cyclists. Railway companies just don't like bikes. I think in the longer run the only solution will be to allow/encourage them to charge more for bikes, so they no longer make a loss.
Willem

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robgul
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Re: New bike restriction on Eurostar

Postby robgul » 18 Jan 2013, 9:57am

As I'm planning to go via Eurostar to Paris for the finish of le Tour with my folder. I just measured my 20" wheel Dahon .... it only just sneaks into the size limit ... 82cm long of the 85cm allowed. Good job the cover/bag is made from very thin ripstop nylon.

Rob
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ChrisButch
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Re: New bike restriction on Eurostar

Postby ChrisButch » 18 Jan 2013, 1:51pm

willem jongman wrote:For many destinations the Harwich to Hook of Holland ferry is a much better option. From Holland you can take the splendid German Intercity Nightline trains to such places as Basel (and onwards into Italy), Copenhagen, Vienna or Prague. There are even a few (not many) options to travel to France.
Willem


Nothing wrong with the option you mention, but in many if not most cases it effectively mean another day's travel time at each end: not good news for those with limited holiday time from work, especially for those starting from the other side of the UK. The big advantage of Eurostar is that it made possible getting a long way south into Europe in a single day without having to fly.

andymiller
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Re: New bike restriction on Eurostar

Postby andymiller » 19 Jan 2013, 6:43pm

Just in case the point gets lost, you can still take bikes by Eurostar, but you have to pay £30 (admittedly this is seriously overpriced compared with other train operators in Europe). I haven't compared prices, but I suspect it would be cheaper to do this than go via the Hook of Harwich (depending on where you live of course). I appreciate that this isn't any help if you need to catch one of the TGV services to the south where you can only carry a bike in a bag. [CORRECTION: you could take your bike on the registered baggage service, although this only guarantees to put your bike on the next available train. I don't know whether you could book a bike space for a bagged bike in order to guarantee that it travels on the same train].

I went to the eurostar website to see what their revised bike page says, and they asked me what I thought. so I told them:

I am really disappointed by Eurostar's decision to change its policy on bike bags. Was this really necessary? Given that on many TGV services you can only take a bike in a bag this means that many people will fly instead. If you were going to make it more difficult to take a bike in a bag you could at least have reduced the price of your bike carriage service and/or made it easier to use - eg why are bike spaces only bookable two months ahead when tickets are available four months ahead.


I'd urge other people to also let eurostar know what they think.

Out of curiosity (as an ex-member of CTC I have been excommunicated) are the CTC doing anything about this? Have they done anything?
Last edited by andymiller on 19 Jan 2013, 9:19pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Barrenfluffit
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Re: New bike restriction on Eurostar

Postby Barrenfluffit » 19 Jan 2013, 8:14pm

andymiller wrote:Just in case the point gets lost, you can still take bikes by Eurostar,


to Paris or Brussels. Not sure you can take them to an intermediate point and if you wanted to take your bike on the summer service to Avignon (which would be excellent) or the winter service to the alps its not possible.

Ebe exists for a reason...

ChrisButch
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Re: New bike restriction on Eurostar

Postby ChrisButch » 19 Jan 2013, 8:47pm

Barrenfluffit wrote:
andymiller wrote:... if you wanted to take your bike on the summer service to Avignon
...

.....which this year is being extended as far as Aix-en-Provence, just to rub it in....

andymiller
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Re: New bike restriction on Eurostar

Postby andymiller » 19 Jan 2013, 9:16pm

Barrenfluffit wrote:
andymiller wrote:Just in case the point gets lost, you can still take bikes by Eurostar,


to Paris or Brussels. Not sure you can take them to an intermediate point and if you wanted to take your bike on the summer service to Avignon (which would be excellent) or the winter service to the alps its not possible.

Ebe exists for a reason...


Yes that's true - which is a real pain if you want to change at Lille and avoid Paris.

Well EBE's all very well if your end destination is in France and you can face spending half a lifetime on a coach.
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