Getting your bike to Harwich for the ferry

Cycle-touring, Expeditions, Adventures, Major cycle routes NOT LeJoG (see other special board)
iviehoff
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Joined: 20 Jan 2009, 4:38pm

Getting your bike to Harwich for the ferry

Postby iviehoff » 19 May 2015, 6:29pm

Since Abellio is run by the Dutch who like to think they are cycle-friendly, there was me thinking it would be relatively straightforward to get our family with bikes to Harwich International for the ferry for the Netherlands. (My wife has already had to swallow the idea that we will have to cycle across central London between stations as it will be too early to be allowed onto the Circle Line, less than ideal with an 8-yr-old.)

But apparently not. The direct ferry special train to Harwich International at 1932 from Liverpool St has 4 non-bookable cycle spaces, so that's a risk, since maybe we are not the only cyclists trying to do this. We could take the 1930 or the 2000 to Manningtree to connect for the local service from M to H. These trains have 6 cycle spaces, but as they are intercity services you have to phone them to book them at least 24 hours in advance. There are also slow trains to Manningtree which require no cycle reservation, but if I took the first slow train to M after the 1932, we would be there too late for the 2245 last check-in time for the 2300 ferry, as it doesn't connect well at Manningtree. I could go earlier, since apparently you can put your bikes on a train from 1830 (the only hint of a relatively cycle friendly policy from this company) but then I'd have to pay peak fares, as off-peak fares are not valid before 1930 on Abellio trains, which, for the family of 3, would add an extra £75 to our journey cost, which is just disproportionate.

Well their anti-social cycle policies mean that I will now have to engage in the anti-social behaviour of booking cycle spaces on a train I don't want to use, just as an insurance policy.

I'm sure most people would have given up and driven there.

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RickH
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Joined: 5 Mar 2012, 6:39pm
Location: Horwich, Lancs.

Re: Getting your bike to Harwich for the ferry

Postby RickH » 19 May 2015, 10:12pm

Isn't the simplest one to book on the intercity service online using one of the services that allows you to make bike bookings as part of the booking.

I used to use East Coast but don't know if their system has changed since they were sold off to Virgin as I haven't needed to book trains. The First franchises (such at TransPennine Express) should allow you to do the bookings (you don't have to book any part of the journey on the train company you are doing the booking with). If the bike booking isn't obvious it should be lurking somewhere in the seat reservations section.

If you don't want to do it online the simplest alternative is to go to any staffed rail ticket office and get them to sort it all out for you. The prices should generally all be the same.

Rick.

JJF
Posts: 296
Joined: 17 Feb 2007, 9:14pm

Re: Getting your bike to Harwich for the ferry

Postby JJF » 19 May 2015, 10:50pm

Travel from Lpool St to Harwich in nowhere near as difficult as you imagine.

Their policy says 4 bikes per train but it simply means that in certain carriages there are tip-up seats where bikes can be placed. It's quite possible you will find people sitting there. It is entirely normal to get on the train and park bikes in the "foyer" on the opposite side to where you got on. You have to keep an eye on them because the platform at the next station might be on that side. There are no bike reservations. Last year when dozens of cyclists were travelling into London there were lots of bikes but no problems

The only restriction on bikes is that you can't take them into or out of London in the rush hour.

The trains involving a a change at Manningtree are inter-city. They are less convenient because you have to change platforms via stairs and because you have to leap out of the train at Manningtree and rush to recover your bike before the train continues its journey.

I hope this helps.

From where are you proposing to cycle to Lpool St?

eileithyia
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Joined: 31 Jan 2007, 6:46pm
Location: Horwich Which is Lancs :-)

Re: Getting your bike to Harwich for the ferry

Postby eileithyia » 20 May 2015, 8:12am

Like above, not London, but i recently got a train out of Manchester with supposed tip up seats, cycle space.... it was already occupied by those sitting on the seats, cue hostile challenging looks, or total absorption in reading material and no eye contact....
I had to stand in the well between carriages (often a regular occurance when i used trains regularly and there no reserved areas, anyway) and no train staff were around either......
I stand and rejoice everytime I see a woman ride by on a wheel the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood. HG Wells

axel_knutt
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Joined: 11 Jan 2007, 12:20pm

Re: Getting your bike to Harwich for the ferry

Postby axel_knutt » 20 May 2015, 10:27am

iviehoff wrote:off-peak fares are not valid before 1930 on Abellio trains


Are you sure?

When I wanted to catch a train home using an off-peak ticket I asked the staff on Liverpool Street station how long I had to wait for the end of the peak time, and I was told that I could use any train as peak time only applies in the morning, not the evening. The trains don't have bike spaces, you just bung them in by the door.
“I'm not upset that you lied to me, I'm upset that from now on I can't believe you.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche

iviehoff
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Joined: 20 Jan 2009, 4:38pm

Re: Getting your bike to Harwich for the ferry

Postby iviehoff » 20 May 2015, 11:11am

axel_knutt wrote:
iviehoff wrote:off-peak fares are not valid before 1930 on Abellio trains


Are you sure?

When I wanted to catch a train home using an off-peak ticket I asked the staff on Liverpool Street station how long I had to wait for the end of the peak time, and I was told that I could use any train as peak time only applies in the morning, not the evening. The trains don't have bike spaces, you just bung them in by the door.

The use of evening peak restrictions is a relatively modern innovation, and there are some curiosities due to the inconsistencies of different companies policies.

But it is clear that their conditions do not allow use of off peak tickets in the evening peak.
http://www.abelliogreateranglia.co.uk/t ... conditions
Actually turns out the precise end of off-peak restrictions at Liverpool St is 1834, though the national rail ticket price quoting machine seemed to suggest I couldn't use a 1900 train, possibly because the end-of-peak is 1900 on their trains from Kings Cross, and maybe the ticket offer coding isn't clever enough to distinguish the difference according to departure terminus.

Anyway I've got the bike reservations for 1930, will try to use the 1932 and if it looks bad take the 1930 instead, hopefully there will be enough time for that. It is particularly the fact that it is a Friday before a bank holiday that worries me because I think some trains will be unusually heavily loaded.

Slowroad
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Joined: 28 Jun 2008, 9:58pm
Location: Nottingham, UK

Re: Getting your bike to Harwich for the ferry

Postby Slowroad » 24 May 2015, 10:29pm

If you go via Manningtree be aware that there are steep steps down to the tunnel and up again to change platforms.
If you can get an earlier train it's nice to go into Harwich itself which is a pleasant place and has an excellent fish & chip shop. I was worried about connections so left hours more than I needed!
“My two favourite things in life are libraries and bicycles. They both move people forward without wasting anything. The perfect day: riding a bike to the library.”
― Peter Golkin

iviehoff
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Joined: 20 Jan 2009, 4:38pm

Re: Getting your bike to Harwich for the ferry

Postby iviehoff » 4 Jun 2015, 9:07am

It turned out that getting on the 1932 direct train to Harwich Int was no probs at all, even on the Friday before a Bank Holiday. It was 8 coaches, thus with 8 cycles places, and most of the customers got on at Stratford rather than Liv St. Unfortunately 2 large parties of travellers got on through the door next to our bikes and couldn't be bothered walking along the train to find the many free seats elsewhere, and instead chose to whinge loudly at our presumption and selfishness at travelling with bikes on their train, making many of the common false assertions about their rights in relation to mine ("I've paid for a seat" - no you haven't, dear, and there are plenty if you want them, but you'll have to sit next to someone you don't know).

I had checked in advance that there were no engineering works for the return trip in the early morning of 31 May, but it turned out there were some limited works, presumably not of sufficient scope to mention widely, but sufficient to prevent our train running and the train was replaced by coaches. A heroic coach driver loaded no fewer than 6 bikes on the coach.