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Re: Train issues at both ends of LEJOG

Posted: 7 Jul 2014, 5:47pm
by Bicycler
Not had them round here for a while now but isn't there decent dedicated cycle storage in the guards' vans on those old HSTs? Or are such facilities now just a fond memory? I remember them being much better for cyclists than the new generation of trains.

Re: Train issues at both ends of LEJOG

Posted: 7 Jul 2014, 6:04pm
by Richard Fairhurst
It's the back end of carriage A, and not accessible from the main seated area, so yes, you could describe it as a guard's van.

(There's additional bike storage in the power cars. In theory this isn't in regular use but you'll very occasionally get a kindly conductor who loads bikes in there. It would be great if FGW were to use this exclusively for London-Penzance customers, freeing up the main six spaces for those getting on/off along the way.)

Re: Train issues at both ends of LEJOG

Posted: 7 Jul 2014, 7:10pm
by Bicycler
Thinking about it, the cycle storage I remembered may well have been in the power car. As I say it's been a while...

Re: Train issues at both ends of LEJOG

Posted: 7 Jul 2014, 8:44pm
by RickH
When I used the Penzance train in 2009 there were 5 of us turned up (independently - but going on the same organised LEJOG) with reservations but there were 3 unreserved bikes already aboard. The staff put the extras in the power car and, as far as I know, everybody's bikes arrived safely (as did my trailer which I also left in the portable bike shed). There aren't many stops so it is not really a difficult job to look out to see that no-one else is waltzing off with your bike.

Rick.

Re: Train issues at both ends of LEJOG

Posted: 11 Jul 2014, 11:23am
by sappercaptain
Thanks all. Super helpful. Last question. Has anyone taken their bike on board as baggage? (ie, in a bag/box?).

Re: Train issues at both ends of LEJOG

Posted: 11 Jul 2014, 1:38pm
by Ben@Forest
sappercaptain wrote: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.

Thanks in advance.


I've done Penzance - Paddington with no bike problem (had a reservation of course). Only issue was the journey itself which arrived in Paddington over an hour late. I had an advance ticket for further onward travel but the guard scrawled something unintelligible on the P to P ticket which meant that when I cycled over to Kings Cross they gave me a new ticket for an East Coast service without batting an eyelid. I did wonder though how easy it may have been if the next three (or whatever) East Coast trains had no cycle spaces available.

Re: Train issues at both ends of LEJOG

Posted: 11 Jul 2014, 5:37pm
by LindaB
Original poster here... reporting on our train journeys now that LEJOG is done.
I had reserved London to Penzance and Wick to London for 4 people and 4 bicycles using East Coast's web site. I did book the second journey as 2 separate reservations (Wick-Edin. and Edin - London) since it was much cheaper that way. I reserved each trip on the day tickets were to be available - this worked well for the first journey, but we had to delay our return by a day since no bicycle reservations from Wick were available on our desired return date. In the end this was fine - we added in an extra layover day in Edinburgh and moved some B&B reservations.

I had specified picking up the tickets at Euston Station in London since that was near our hotel and I wanted to handle any difficulties before our departure day. The machine spit out an unbelievable number of wallet-sized cards! Two tickets per bike, two tickets per person for each leg of the journeys. Once sorted they made sense - one to attach to the bike, and a matching one to hold on to; one for the journey and another for the seat reservation.

We found the train employees consistently helpful and friendly - as we did just about everyone in the UK.

London- Penzance: We were at the station early and tried to scout out which track we needed and how the bikes would be loaded - our questions cheerfully answered. Once the track was announced we took the bikes down to the "guard's van". I believe the train people loaded them. We were assured they would be safe, and that they knew whose bikes they were. Our seats were in the adjacent car, which was convenient. I was asked if we had reservations, but they didn't make a big deal about the paper cards. Easy unloading at Penzance, and we were off!

Wick-Inverness: For the first stage of our trip back to London, the 2 car train was already in the station the previous afternoon when we walked over to check out things. We were advised to show up at 6 am for the 6:20 departure the next day. (Aside: the local Wick history museum doesn't look like much on the outside, but is huge and fascinating inside - we spent several hours there and could have spent more. ) On this train, each of the 2 cars had space for 2 bikes on a rack with some velcro straps. Signs said not to lock the bike to the train. We sat where we could see the bikes, so didn't lock them at all.

Inverness - Edinburgh: The time to change trains at Inverness was only 10 minutes, which worried me a bit. Not a problem. The train attendant had let us know what track our connecting train would be on, which was very helpful. It wasn't immediately obvious where the bikes were to be loaded on the next train - and staff on the platform were busy dealing with a handicapped passenger. They said not to worry, they would be sure we were taken care of before the train left. Bikes ended up put in some little spaces at the end of two different cars. One space already had a bike in it, so was a bit difficult to get 2 more in, but it worked. Again we sat where we could see our bikes. Lots of unreserved seats, so it wasn't a problem to sit where we wanted to.

Edinburgh - London: We had a nice long layover (just over an hour, I recall). Plenty of time for lunch and waiting around to see what track we'd go out on. I've never seen a train quite as long as this one!! Bikes went in the Guard's van at the rear, and our seats were at the opposite end of the train - a very long walk, but all went very smoothly. This was the only train that really seemed concerned about seeing our cycle reservation cards. Staff offered to keep our panniers with our bikes, but we opted to take them to our seats. After a seemingly endless day of train riding, we were at King's Cross. Opted to walk our bikes the 10 or 15 minutes back to the Ibis at Euston Station in the warm evening.

Thank to all those on the list who offered advice about trains and everything else involved in planning this trip - couldn't have done it without you!
LindaB

Re: Train issues at both ends of LEJOG

Posted: 15 Jul 2014, 9:37pm
by Chris Ince
On related note, about time our rail companies went to Germany to see what a piece of cake it is over there. Went down for the T de F from Elgin to Oxenholme and cycled east to Buttertubs. Had booked my place on the trains via Inverness and Edinburgh....so had half a dozen other cyclists. Scotrail and Trans Pennine are totally incompetent and unhelpful with their over booking. However, we all stood our ground and squeezed our bikes on. There was not much they could do with genuine tickets zip tied to the frames. BRING BACK THE GUARDS VANS!!

Re: Train issues at both ends of LEJOG

Posted: 15 Jul 2014, 10:55pm
by Richard Fairhurst
Chris Ince wrote:On related note, about time our rail companies went to Germany to see what a piece of cake it is over there.


Are you sure?

You can take bicycles on board an ICE train as long as they are folded away in a bike bag. If you’d like to take a bike that doesn’t fold away, you may want to consider the luggage courier service. Your bike will be delivered to your destination for a charge of (currently) €25.80.


...whereas you can take a bike on a First Great Western intercity train without booking, without bag, without folding, without charge; and booking's an option if you want to be sure of your place.

I bought an easily baggable Bike Friday New World Tourist partly so that I could use Eurostar and ICE without hassle. But the situation on an ICE is much worse than the equivalent on UK intercity trains.

Re: Train issues at both ends of LEJOG

Posted: 15 Jul 2014, 11:59pm
by Chris Ince
Local trains comparable to those we use in Scotland a piece of cake. Absurd that most of the trains up here can only accommodate two bikes. ICE trains more problematic I agree.

Re: Train issues at both ends of LEJOG

Posted: 30 Jul 2014, 12:01am
by MrsHJ
Really enjoyed your blog over on the thingamajig site Linda. Glad the food was generally good, the weather mostly ok and sympathise that the roads were predictably that British choice between steep and narrow, but quiet or straight, flat and like a formula one race! I've never really fancied doing Lejog but even I was a bit tempted by the photos!

Re: Train issues at both ends of LEJOG

Posted: 1 Aug 2014, 2:43am
by Bicycler
Richard Fairhurst wrote:
Chris Ince wrote:On related note, about time our rail companies went to Germany to see what a piece of cake it is over there.


Are you sure?

CJ in another thread wrote:Note: this is probably your last chance of a rail-assisted CTC tour into Germany - as I'm the only leader brave or foolish enough to tackle the byzantine booking procedure for groups with bikes and I'm getting out of that whilst I'm still on a high and before I get an ulcer!

:lol:

Re: Train issues at both ends of LEJOG

Posted: 1 Aug 2014, 12:01pm
by alans
Mick F wrote: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.


Being a sometimes contrary sort of chap I lock my bike in situ & don't give a ff/ra about their rules if they have the same attitude towards the security of my bike.
I've done it several times on Derby/York:Stoke/Crewe:Stafford/W'hampton & other journies including Inverness/Wick.

Re: Train issues at both ends of LEJOG

Posted: 22 Aug 2014, 12:27pm
by merseymouth
Hi All :) , Count yourselves lucky with regard to taking a bicycle with you on trains in Scotland. When a tricycle is mentioned or thought about? Not a hope!
Even when used by a disabled rider it's no go. On English & Welsh trains my trike travels as a wheelchair, as railway regulations only stipulate that it must fit within a designated area. Mine do. But Scotrail prohibit the carriage citing "Rolling Stock Issues"? Bit odd that, as they use the same rolling stock as the rest of the UK! :roll:
Also funny how the rail companies never protest when disabled persons spaces are taken up by luggage of buggies :shock:
Most trouble free rail journey I have had in years was on the East Lancashire Railway, a Deltic with a proper guards van, yippee. TTFN MM

Re: Train issues at both ends of LEJOG

Posted: 22 Aug 2014, 2:16pm
by NEvans
Mick F wrote:
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:


I had a friend on a different route put card padding on parts of the bike and when asked stated it was a package taking as a present. The guard didn't argue.