Train issues at both ends of LEJOG

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LindaB
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Joined: 17 Jun 2013, 8:41pm

Train issues at both ends of LEJOG

Postby LindaB » 21 Feb 2014, 11:23pm

I'm trying to work out some train details for our June LEJOG:

Returning to London: I’m looking at leaving Wick on the 6:20 am train, assuming I can get bike reservations. The train change in Inverness is only 10 minutes (arrives 10:35 and departs for Edinburgh at 10:45). I’m worried this will not be enough time to get 4 people and 4 bikes moved between the trains. Has anyone made this seemingly very tight connection?? Hoping to arrive in Edin. At 14:24 and depart for London at 15:30, which should be plenty of time for that change. Alternate is to leave Wick on the next train (8:41am) which has around 30 minutes in Inverness, but that puts us back in London quite late, 21:43.
(yes, I know the same train goes to Thurso, but since we’ll have already been through there, chose to go to Duncansby Head and Wick, and spend the night there. )

London to Land’s End: Does anyone care to hazard a guess as to whether the tracks at Dawlish will be repaired and in service by June 7th?? Our original plan was to leave London on the 10:06 am train for Penzance, then ride to Land’s End, where we have reservations at the Hostel. Alternatives we’ve thought of are 1. Rent a large van in London and drive to Penzance (or elsewhere where we can drop the vehicle) and bicycle on to LE. 2. Train to Exeter where it ends; arrange to pick up a large vehicle there and complete the trip. 3. Cycle the “middle part” where there is now only bus service, and use the train for London to Exeter and Newton Abbot to Penzance. I let ridewithgps.com choose the route between the two train stations for me, and it came up with this: http://ridewithgps.com/routes/4047288 (22.4 miles and 1188 feet of climbing).

Ideas? Comments? With so few bicycle spaces available, the whole process seems a little intimidating! Originally, I’d hoped to book the sleeper Edinburgh to London, but only 3 bicycles are allowed on that, and there are 4 of us. My plan is to book all the tickets on East Coast web site, and arrange to pick them all up at Euston Station in London at the beginning of the trip. I'm starting to lie awake nights worrying....

Chris Ince
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Re: Train issues at both ends of LEJOG

Postby Chris Ince » 21 Feb 2014, 11:52pm

Hi Linda, I live not far away in Elgin. Done it several times, Inverness is a terminus so it is not as though you are rushing to get a train stopping on way through. Regarding Dawlish, they will have it done before June- absolute priority for the economy of the SW. My only concern is getting 4 bikes on the ScotRail service from Wick to Inverness, may be wrong but thought there was only provision for two. Have you checked?

LindaB
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Re: Train issues at both ends of LEJOG

Postby LindaB » 22 Feb 2014, 3:56am

Thanks, Chris, I hope you are right about the Cornwall train situation! Coudn't find where I'd read 4 bikes on the train from Wick, but just went on the Scot Rail website and tried to book 4 people and 4 bikes next week on the train and it went though fine... of course I stopped short of entering my credit card! I was planning to do all the tickets on the East Coast site, hadn't realized you could book bikes on-line with Scot Rail. I couldn't find anything on the information pages at ScotRail, except the restriction on the Caledonian Sleeper to 3 bikes, and the fact that spaces may be limited on some services.

LollyKat
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Re: Train issues at both ends of LEJOG

Postby LollyKat » 22 Feb 2014, 2:38pm

LindaB wrote:I’m looking at leaving Wick on the 6:20 am train, assuming I can get bike reservations. The train change in Inverness is only 10 minutes (arrives 10:35 and departs for Edinburgh at 10:45). I’m worried this will not be enough time to get 4 people and 4 bikes moved between the trains.

I'm pretty certain that they will hold the Edinburgh train for you - certainly they always used to. Inverness station is small and all on one level so it only takes a couple of minutes to change trains.

sjgreen
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Joined: 7 Feb 2014, 2:24pm

Re: Train issues at both ends of LEJOG

Postby sjgreen » 22 Feb 2014, 10:09pm

hi Linda
What a nightmare! It's just ridiculous that the Caledonian only takes 3 bikes - a massive great train like that! I'm now thanking my lucky stars that I got 2 bikes booked on it for our homecoming in May but it just seems so senseless to limit bikes to 3, it's such a pathetically inadequate gesture to the stated intention of encouraging cyclists to use the trains. I wonder if there would be any point in you contacting Scotrail to ask them to bend the (stupid) rules for you, as there would be 4 paying passengers, surely they could squeeze another bike on?! Sorry my reply doesn't offer any actual help, but Good luck anyway, I'm sure it will all work out but it shouldn't be this stressful should it. Best wishes, Sharon.

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Mick F
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Re: Train issues at both ends of LEJOG

Postby Mick F » 23 Feb 2014, 2:51pm

Way back in the dim and distant past, I rode JOGLE.
1994 seems such a long time ago.

Back then, there was a restriction on bikes as there is now. The train north from Inverness stopped at Georgemass Junction and the two DMU carriages split: one to Wick, the other to Thurso.

Me and Mrs Mick F made me a big bag to fit Bike into.
The wheels were taken off and the frame (plus racks and mudguards) were inserted upside down with the wheels either side in protective bags made from a tent fly-sheet. The bag was made from cheap denim and it was zippped from end to end. We made a webbing system that supported everything and was the correct length so it would hang over my shoulder. The four panniers were clipped into pairs, and I could carry them in my hands. It was a big lift, but I could do it in a "one-er".

When I got to Wick station, I unwrapped the whole thing, assembled my bike and fitted my panniers, then rolled up the denim bag and the wheel bags together, bungeed them onto the top of my rear rack, and cycled to SYHA JOG at Canisbay.

There was a post office there back then ......... is there one now? .......... and as I'd brought some brown paper, sticky tape and a felt pen, I parcelled up my denim bag and posted it back home. .............. I still have it here, unopened and never used since.

By having a bike in a bag, it isn't a bike.
If it isn't a bike, there is no restriction.
If your bike is in a bag, it's not a bike ................ it's luggage. :lol:
Mick F. Cornwall

dai_t75
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Joined: 19 Jan 2013, 8:09pm

Re: Train issues at both ends of LEJOG

Postby dai_t75 » 23 Feb 2014, 3:00pm

Hi,

Have you considered flying back from Wick?

Just had a quick look on the train line and a single in June for the train looks to be about £170. Also had a quick look on skyscanner and you can get a flight for around £120 and ship your bike back for £50. We flew back and found it much less stressful thank getting the train (which we did to LE).

With that said, next time I do it I will definitely hire a car one way to LE - I really disliked how the bikes were dealt with on the trains. It would have only cost us a couple of quid more and would have been much less stressful.

sjs
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Location: Hitchin

Re: Train issues at both ends of LEJOG

Postby sjs » 23 Feb 2014, 3:11pm

dai_t75 wrote:Hi,

Have you considered flying back from Wick?

Just had a quick look on the train line and a single in June for the train looks to be about £170. Also had a quick look on skyscanner and you can get a flight for around £120 and ship your bike back for £50. We flew back and found it much less stressful thank getting the train (which we did to LE).

With that said, next time I do it I will definitely hire a car one way to LE - I really disliked how the bikes were dealt with on the trains. It would have only cost us a couple of quid more and would have been much less stressful.


When I arrived in Wick having finished my LEJOG I found the station had no record of my bike reservation (I had been told when I booked that I didn't need a paper copy; this was 2002). While I was wondering what to do, I went into the post office and asked them if there was any limit on the size of a parcel I might send. "You want to send a bike, don't you?" they said. And they would have done so as well, suggesting I went into the supermarket to get some bits of cardboard for protection. In the end, I just turned up for the early train the next day hoping there would be noone at an intermediate stop with a reservation, and everything worked out OK, but it made for a nervous trip to Edinburgh.

LindaB
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Joined: 17 Jun 2013, 8:41pm

Re: Train issues at both ends of LEJOG

Postby LindaB » 23 Feb 2014, 7:59pm

Thanks everyone for the suggestions – I’d have never thought of flying or of MickF’s bike bag suggestion. We had discarded the idea of car hire due to the time it would take and wanting to relax rather than be stressed about driving on the “wrong” side of the road safely back to London.

We have tickets to fly home (London to the US) early on the 3rd day after we arrive back in London. Flying back from Wick would be great, but don’t know how to get bikes back in time to pack for our flight home. We had tried finding shipping for them all the way back to the US, but had no luck. Another of our group was looking into this, and I know she contacted Johnogroatsbiketransportcompany.co.uk, but they would not arrange transport to the US, and need to allow 7 days for the cycles to be shipped to London. So flying seems like a dead end…

I’m just going to hope we can get trains & bike reservations at both end! Will deal with the bike bag possibility if we can’t. Which brings up yet another question: I was planning to reserve on the East Coast web site since I understood that was the only one that could issue bike reservations online, and then pick up all the tickets at Euston Station (we’re staying near there) on the day we arrive in London. Has this changed? Can you get online cycle spaces at thetrainline or ScotRail now?

The other issue is breaking up the ticketing to get a cheaper fare... what if you get a bike space on one leg but not the other? And the cheap seats appear to be nonrefundable... Seems like you could easily get stuck at an intermediate destination... Does bribery work :lol: ?

So grateful for this forum – don’t think we could do the trip without your advice!

birkhead
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Joined: 29 Apr 2007, 10:41pm

Re: Train issues at both ends of LEJOG

Postby birkhead » 13 Jun 2014, 3:00pm

I thought there was a sticky for bikes on trains? cant find it today so here it goes:
13June2014
Dear Scotrail

My recent journey from Thurso to Inverness was marred by several incidents relating to cycles.
I travelled with a friend and two bikes pre-booked.

On departure at Thurso, another cyclist was refused access to the train since the train already had three bikes on board. He had a reservation on the following train and was told to take that. We were also refused desppite having cycle reservations, but boarded the train and our bikes were fitted easily within the spaces available on the train.
Furthermore at one of the intervening stations, probably Forsinard, two more young cyclists were refused access to the train.
The station was unstaffed, so they had no means of arranging a cycle booking at this location.

This is a longstanding issue, and I am amazed that Scotrail has not resolved the matter to enable cyclists to use this service.
The train was virtually empty, and there was a large space opposite the bike racks for wheelchairs, which was not used at all.
The other cyclists were not permitted to use this space, even though it would have accomodated another 5 or 6 cycles with ease.
Moreover the removal of two seats would have enabled a similar quantity of additional bikes to be accommodated.
On the subsequent train that we used from Inverness to Inverurie, the cycle space was a multi-use wheelchair/cycle space, so it is evidently Scotrail policy to permit dual use.

There is a large demand for cycle carriage on this route, due in part to LEJOG cycle rides, and Scotrail has patently failed to provide an adequate service.
Moreover Scotrail is losing a significant income from cyclists who wish to use the route, and are obliged to find alternative means of transport, probably less sustainable.

Perhaps the issue will be resolved when a new contract is taken out for rail services in Scotland?
Meantime it would be easy for Scotrail to radically increase its capacity and modify its unwelcoming and aggressive policy toward cyclists.

I shall copy this complaint to my MSPs.

--
Mark

CycleTourer101
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Re: Train issues at both ends of LEJOG

Postby CycleTourer101 » 6 Jul 2014, 12:48pm

Can bikes be bagged on UK trains in a similar way to SNCF? Then just carried on as general luggage?

loafer
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Re: Train issues at both ends of LEJOG

Postby loafer » 6 Jul 2014, 8:15pm

hi
received this from a mate of mine who just finished LEJOG last week might be of use to some people :D

http://www.johnogroatsbiketransport.co.uk/index.php

larry

sappercaptain
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Joined: 7 Jul 2014, 3:56pm

Re: Train issues at both ends of LEJOG

Postby sappercaptain » 7 Jul 2014, 4:27pm

Can anyone please tell what it's REALLY like to take your bike on the train from Paddington to Penzance. I have a bike reservation (LEJOG planned in Sept), but what I want to know is where the bike actually goes, is it safe from damage and theft, can I lock it etc. Also, can anyone confirm whether a bike in a bag is still a bike as far as FGW is concerned, or is it baggage?

Thanks in advance.

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Mick F
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Re: Train issues at both ends of LEJOG

Postby Mick F » 7 Jul 2014, 5:07pm

Paddington to Penzance I haven't done, but Plymouth to Redruth I have - on the Padd to Penz train.
I joined it at Plymouth and had to put my bike in a bike rack. Basically the bike rack was just that - a rack supported by the wheels, and I wasn't happy.

I asked the train staff if I could check on it from time to time and was told I couldn't. :oops:
I asked the train staff if ANYONE taking their bike out at a station could take MY bike instead of their own, and I was told yes it was possible! :shock:

No, you are not allowed to lock your bike. :evil:

Happily I was fine, and my bike was fine too, but I wasn't happy or fine, and I won't be doing it again.
Mick F. Cornwall

Richard Fairhurst
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Re: Train issues at both ends of LEJOG

Postby Richard Fairhurst » 7 Jul 2014, 5:25pm

You are allowed to lock your bike... but only to itself, not to the train!

Bikes do fall over quite easily in FGW HSTs. Suggest taking your own velcro strap if your bike is delicate - the racks do have them, but the velcro is usually shot.

If you have flat bars, try and get the leftmost space - you can push the bars through the wire mesh partition to stop the bike falling over. With drops, you might be able to wedge them against the ladder in the rightmost space. Alternatively, the wooden train wheel chocks are usually kept in the bike area, and you can use one of those to wedge the back wheel in place... as long as the conductor doesn't see you. (Some conductors are ok with it, but others can get grumpy.)

FWIW I've taken my bikes on FGW a lot and never had any issues. But if you're worried, I'd suggest you get a seat in carriage A (where the bike space is) and keep an eye out at stations.
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