Getting the bikes to Penzance

Specific board for this popular undertaking.
AlanInBangor
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Getting the bikes to Penzance

Postby AlanInBangor » 12 Feb 2020, 4:05pm

The obvious route from Bangor was via Newport which would have necessitated only one change and a reasonable start and finish time. The first leg would have been fine but the system was showing no bike spaces on the Cardiff to Penzance train. I checked this service on several other dates and also other times from Newport (involving changes) with no result.

GWR customer services were absolutely useless, and several cycling forums recounted horror stories about their GWR experience, even someone denied boarding despite having a reservation.

Ultimately I devised a route to Birmingham New Street (changing at Shrewsbury) then Cross Country to Plymouth for a GWR service from Paddingon to take us to Penzance. It necessitated an earlier start (07:06 from Bangor rather than 09:02) but we should get to Penzance earlier, at 17:09 for the ride to Lands End youth hostel. I was surprised how cheap it was, just under £40 each with a railcard and the Plymouth to Penzance leg is first class!

I expect the cycling to be easier than the train booking experience, it feels like I've accomplished a major achievement already.

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horizon
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Re: Getting the bikes to Penzance

Postby horizon » 12 Feb 2020, 5:06pm

AlanInBangor wrote: but the system was showing no bike spaces on the Cardiff to Penzance train. I checked this service on several other dates and also other times from Newport (involving changes) with no result.




AlanInBangor: I'm only questioning this because I always suspect that there is something amiss when no bike bookings are available unless it is at peak time, August holidays etc. AIUI, Cardiff to Penzance would usually involve a GWR local train to Bristol Temple Meads, usually an Express Sprinter. I don't know if booking a bike is possible on these trains (although seat reservations are available) and that might have given you the wrong message. There are also other types of train further south west that don't allow bookings: are you certain you weren't misreading the booking result? Generally I would have thought that a booking would have been possible (where it is possible!). You didn't say when you would be travelling.
When the pestilence strikes from the East, go far and breathe the cold air deeply. Ignore the sage, stay not indoors. Ho Ri Zon 12th Century Chinese philosopher

Marcus Aurelius
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Re: Getting the bikes to Penzance

Postby Marcus Aurelius » 12 Feb 2020, 5:15pm

The GWR service from Paddington is the one a lot of people doing the LEJOG use to get to Penzance. if you got a bike space, at ‘RAB’ time, you did well.

AlanInBangor
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Re: Getting the bikes to Penzance

Postby AlanInBangor » 12 Feb 2020, 7:34pm

AIUI, Cardiff to Penzance would usually involve a GWR local train to Bristol Temple Meads, usually an Express Sprinter. I don't know if booking a bike is possible on these trains (although seat reservations are available) and that might have given you the wrong message. There are also other types of train further south west that don't allow bookings: are you certain you weren't misreading the booking result? Generally I would have thought that a booking would have been possible (where it is possible!). You didn't say when you would be travelling.

It's a direct GWR service all the way from Cardiff to Penzance, pathed as Class 158/168/170/175 DMU, I tried to book for late April. The booking clerk at my local station advised phoning GWR since no bike spaces were showing but they were unable to tell me the reason, whether it was fully booked (unlikely since none were showing on other dates) or if it was a "first come, first served" train.

This is the service: https://www.realtimetrains.co.uk/train/Y94891/2020-02-14/detailed

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horizon
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Re: Getting the bikes to Penzance

Postby horizon » 12 Feb 2020, 11:53pm

That's really interesting - I'm wondering if it's a new service as I haven't been aware of a Cardiff service coming through Liskeard. It is indeed an Express Sprinter with its two bike spaces. My guess is that although the seats are reservable, the bike spaces aren't. I don't think you would have had any problem getting down to Cornwall from Cardiff but with an Advance ticket, yes you take a risk that bike spaces are available on non-reservable services.
When the pestilence strikes from the East, go far and breathe the cold air deeply. Ignore the sage, stay not indoors. Ho Ri Zon 12th Century Chinese philosopher

AlanInBangor
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Re: Getting the bikes to Penzance

Postby AlanInBangor » 16 Feb 2020, 7:03pm

After several days, a not especially helpful or informative reple from GWR...

I'm sorry that you experienced some confusion when trying to book a cycle on your trip between Newport South Wales and Penzance on 23 April.

I've looked into this journey using multiple dates and times. I can see that the upcoming journeys have the bicycle spaces booked or unavailable. The spaces available will become valid for booking closer to the time of journey where applicable.

Unfortunately the only advice I could offer is to keep checking on the journey planner online and also contact us to discus further.. there may become opportunities to book your cycle onto a specified journey, though at this time this option is unavailable.

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Mick F
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Re: Getting the bikes to Penzance

Postby Mick F » 16 Feb 2020, 7:19pm

My utter sympathies to anyone trying to book in advance to get their bike onto a train.

What I did to get my Raleigh Chopper up to Wick for my JOGLE on the beast, was to send it by pallet via a transport company.
They did it for free as I was riding the beast for charity, but I was told that the cost all the way from West Devon to Wick would have been (only) £60odd. After it went, I took the train and collected my pallet from Wick Airport.

If I were to do the same ride again from down here in the Far Southwest to the Far North, I would do the same thing again.
My advice to anyone wanting to get their bike to Penzance or to Wick, is to look into the idea of getting their stuff onto a pallet and transporting it. With a little research, you can find a company to do it, and with a little bit more research you can find someone to have it delivered to who will also dispose of the pallet etc.

Read these:

http://jogleonachopper.blogspot.com/201 ... -gone.html
http://jogleonachopper.blogspot.com/201 ... ne-go.html
Mick F. Cornwall

Enigmadick
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Re: Getting the bikes to Penzance

Postby Enigmadick » 17 Feb 2020, 7:30pm

Just booked myself and my bike from Chester to Penzance for the outrageous sum of £35.95 leaving Chester at 8.19am and arriving Penzance at 4.10am on Monday 16th March. PlusBike said the only section I needed to make a bike reservation on was from Bristol to Plymouth and a lady at GWR did that for me over the phone and emailed me confirmation.

Well chuffed :P - but it'll probably rain.

PS If anyone wants a bed in a shared room at YHA Okehampton Bracken Tor on the evening of Wed 18th March text me on 07493 464 233 (Richard)
ENIGMA DICK aka Richard Barrett
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RickH
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Re: Getting the bikes to Penzance

Postby RickH » 18 Feb 2020, 10:02am

One potential hurdle is the timetable changes that come into operation in May & December each year (the summer 2020 timetable is due to start on 17 May). It is difficult, if not impossible, to make bookings (seats, bikes & cheap tickets) for specific trains after the changeover until the details of the new timetable are in the system.

It may be frustrating but is probably better than letting you book space on a train that may no longer be in the timetable when you turn up to get on it.

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mjr
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Re: Getting the bikes to Penzance

Postby mjr » 18 Feb 2020, 11:07am

horizon wrote:That's really interesting - I'm wondering if it's a new service as I haven't been aware of a Cardiff service coming through Liskeard. It is indeed an Express Sprinter with its two bike spaces. My guess is that although the seats are reservable, the bike spaces aren't. I don't think you would have had any problem getting down to Cornwall from Cardiff but with an Advance ticket, yes you take a risk that bike spaces are available on non-reservable services.

Not much risk if the service is unreservable for bikes. If you are denied boarding on the booked service because spaces are full, service is busy or guard just don't like you, the guard or station staff will endorse your ticket, converting it to an Anytime one - although that would probably mean extra changes for this journey and it usually means a later arrival so you have to plan some slack to allow for that or any other delay.

I would expect Cardiff-Penzance on a Sprinter DMU to be unreservable but it sucks that not even GWR staff seem able to tell. I'm glad that an alternative was available.
MJR, mostly pedalling 3-speed roadsters. KL+West Norfolk BUG incl social easy rides http://www.klwnbug.co.uk
All the above is CC-By-SA and no other implied copyright license to Cycle magazine.

PH
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Re: Getting the bikes to Penzance

Postby PH » 18 Feb 2020, 6:17pm

Enigmadick wrote:Just booked myself and my bike from Chester to Penzance for the outrageous sum of £35.95 leaving Chester at 8.19am and arriving Penzance at 4.10am on Monday 16th March.

Good stuff. We more often hear the bad stuff on here, it's easy to get the impression that it's the norm rather than the exception.

richardfm
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Re: Getting the bikes to Penzance

Postby richardfm » 18 Feb 2020, 6:49pm

Enigmadick wrote:Just booked myself and my bike from Chester to Penzance for the outrageous sum of £35.95 leaving Chester at 8.19am and arriving Penzance at 4.10am on Monday 16th March. PlusBike said the only section I needed to make a bike reservation on was from Bristol to Plymouth and a lady at GWR did that for me over the phone and emailed me confirmation.

Well chuffed :P - but it'll probably rain.

PS If anyone wants a bed in a shared room at YHA Okehampton Bracken Tor on the evening of Wed 18th March text me on 07493 464 233 (Richard)

Is the journey really taking about 20 hours or should that be 16:10 arrival?

AlanInBangor
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Re: Getting the bikes to Penzance

Postby AlanInBangor » 19 Feb 2020, 11:54am

Yes, the most irritating aspect was the inability of GWR to interrogate their own system. It's the first time I've been unable to book bikes on the outward leg though we once had to travel to Scotland on separate trains as there were three of us. Coming back from Montrose last year we could only book two on but the TM was fine with all three of us boarding. I'm relaxed about winging it on the way home but not for the start.

That's a brave move to ride it in March, Richard.