Train travel despair

tentman
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Joined: 29 Nov 2007, 5:41pm

Train travel despair

Postby tentman » 8 Sep 2020, 4:34pm

During my touring travels I have always tried to use the train to get to my start point & likewise to return home. I have now given up because the purchase of tickets has become so insanely complicated and confusing. There is no hope of the operators ever changing the system and politicians will not change anything (what has happened to the Williams report that cost millions last year?) because you only become a politician when you have failed at everything else in life.

roberts8
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Re: Train travel despair

Postby roberts8 » 8 Sep 2020, 4:45pm

I agree and that is a very good reason why cycle tourists use planes. It is sadly quicker, easier and cheaper and unless the balance is changed in favour of trains and boats then in spite of CUk policies that is how a large number of us will travel. We are off to Turkey next year and there is no way could I realistically get a boat and train, or indeed afford it but obviously it is down to personal choice.

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RickH
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Re: Train travel despair

Postby RickH » 8 Sep 2020, 6:00pm

It seems odd. That isn't my experience.

I've just checked the prices for Wigan (my nearest mainline station, about 8 miles away) to Glasgow the day after tomorrow (Thursday) & I could go there for £31 (& back for £24 next Tuesday). I've not tried other dates to see if there's anything cheaper. That is in the current situation. In the not so distant past I've done that trip for £10 to £12 pounds each way.

roberts8 wrote:We are off to Turkey next year and there is no way could I realistically get a boat and train, or indeed afford it but obviously it is down to personal choice.

More accurately, you are hoping to go to Turkey next year. I certainly wouldn't be trying to make definite plans to go anywhere next year at the moment.

There's always the choice of not going to Turkey at all if flying is the only feasible way. :wink:

Pendodave
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Re: Train travel despair

Postby Pendodave » 8 Sep 2020, 6:20pm

Re the original post, is there any way you feel it's deteriorated over (say) the last 5 years?

My own experience is that while it's a long way from ideal, it hasn't got any worse recently (excepting that all travel has been curtailed recently).

I'd be interested if anyone's experience of taking a bike abroad has changed much over the last 5 years.

I don't think taking a bike overland to Turkey has ever been particularly straightforward.

Jdsk
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Re: Train travel despair

Postby Jdsk » 8 Sep 2020, 6:22pm

tentman wrote:There is no hope of the operators ever changing the system and politicians will not change anything (what has happened to the Williams report that cost millions last year?)...

The franchise system has just about bust. We'll see.

Jonathan

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mjr
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Re: Train travel despair

Postby mjr » 8 Sep 2020, 6:46pm

Pendodave wrote:I'd be interested if anyone's experience of taking a bike abroad has changed much over the last 5 years.

Excluding covid:

Eurostar got more awkward because their new trains are worse for bikes.

Harwich for Holland got slightly easier from Cambridge because Greater Anglia got new trains that carry more bikes and have level boarding.

Belgium's SNCB continued switching some lines from loco-hauled trains (which had a bike carriage with tip-up seats, but several steps up to it) to Desiro ML units which are like a bigger version of the Desiro UK: better in some ways like fewer steps, worse in others like the bike areas split up through the train IIRC.
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.

Jdsk
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Re: Train travel despair

Postby Jdsk » 8 Sep 2020, 6:49pm

TGV Lyria stopped carrying intact bikes. Made it more difficult to get to Basel for the EV15.

Jonathan

Pendodave
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Re: Train travel despair

Postby Pendodave » 8 Sep 2020, 7:19pm

Jdsk wrote:
tentman wrote:There is no hope of the operators ever changing the system and politicians will not change anything (what has happened to the Williams report that cost millions last year?)...

The franchise system has just about bust. We'll see.

Jonathan

While this is undoutably the case, I'm not sure that even significant structural change in the industry will benefit cyclists. Much of the rolling stock is fairly new (so not replaced any time soon) and won't become significantly more bike friendly with a new paint job.
Unlike old stock, its just not possible to tack on, or insert, a van to take bikes.

Interesting re. Abroad. In the specific example of Basel, i wonder if it is possible to take an Sncf TGV to Strasbourg and then use the local service to Basle. I used to do this when skiing in the Oberland, as the Lyria service carried a significant price penalty over the split journey. I am a cheapskate.

On a positive note, some things have gotten easier. I had a return ticket from alnmouth to stevenage the other day and was able to book my bike on from the comfort of my laptop without hanging on the phone for hours or making a trip to a booking office. Maybe it's sad that I was pathetically grateful.

Jdsk
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Re: Train travel despair

Postby Jdsk » 8 Sep 2020, 7:26pm

Pendodave wrote:Interesting re. Abroad. In the specific example of Basel, i wonder if it is possible to take an Sncf TGV to Strasbourg and then use the local service to Basle. I used to do this when skiing in the Oberland, as the Lyria service carried a significant price penalty over the split journey. I am a cheapskate.

According to The Man in Seat 61 (my emboldening):
"Bikes go for €10 on some TGV & Intercité trains, advance reservation required: Some high-speed TGV trains & some Intercité trains have special bike spaces and will take bikes for a fee of €10 if you book a bike space in advance. This includes most TGV-Atlantique (Paris-Brittany, Paris-Bordeaux-Biarritz-Lourdes), all Paris-Limoges-Cahors-Toulouse & Paris-Vichy-Clermont Ferrand Intercités, some TGV-Nord (Paris-Lille), some TGV-Est (Paris-Reims-Strasbourg). There are a maximum of 4 bike spaces per train, on the routes and trains that offer this feature."
https://www.seat61.com/bike-by-train.htm#France

Jonathan

PS: I'm also seeing some hints that it may be possible to take intact bikes on some TGV Lyria... but I can't tell if there's been a reversion or if they just never updated in the first place!
Last edited by Jdsk on 9 Sep 2020, 12:50pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Sweep
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Re: Train travel despair

Postby Sweep » 9 Sep 2020, 12:14pm

tentman wrote:During my touring travels I have always tried to use the train to get to my start point & likewise to return home. I have now given up because the purchase of tickets has become so insanely complicated and confusing. There is no hope of the operators ever changing the system and politicians will not change anything (what has happened to the Williams report that cost millions last year?) because you only become a politician when you have failed at everything else in life.


By all means folk carry on with the european info (it's interesting/informative) but re your original post tentman, is your despair related to europe or UK?
Sweep

Jdsk
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Re: Train travel despair

Postby Jdsk » 9 Sep 2020, 12:49pm

tentman wrote:I have now given up because the purchase of tickets has become so insanely complicated and confusing.

What sites and programs have you tried so far? And do they include journey and fare splitting?

Are you already a friend of The Man in Seat 61?
https://www.seat61.com

Jonathan

axel_knutt
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Re: Train travel despair

Postby axel_knutt » 9 Sep 2020, 2:24pm

Pendodave wrote:Much of the rolling stock is fairly new (so not replaced any time soon) and won't become significantly more bike friendly with a new paint job.

Exactly. Among the new trains, the Hitachi appears to be one of the most common, and the bike space on those is atrocious. Thanks to whoever let it pass, we're lumbered with that for a generation now.
“I'm not upset that you lied to me, I'm upset that from now on I can't believe you.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche

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Sweep
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Re: Train travel despair

Postby Sweep » 9 Sep 2020, 3:24pm

axel_knutt wrote:
Pendodave wrote:Much of the rolling stock is fairly new (so not replaced any time soon) and won't become significantly more bike friendly with a new paint job.

Exactly. Among the new trains, the Hitachi appears to be one of the most common, and the bike space on those is atrocious. Thanks to whoever let it pass, we're lumbered with that for a generation now.

I used to use east coast a lot.
Because of this they won't be seeing me again.
I'd rather ride it.
West coast is now great.
Sweep

tentman
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Re: Train travel despair

Postby tentman » 9 Sep 2020, 4:08pm

Axel-Knutt makes an interesting comment about Hitachi trains. I use Hitachi (known as Javelins to me) a lot, from Strood Kent to the north coast of Kent and also to Kings Cross when I want to cycle to Euston & find there is plenty of space behind the drivers cab in the Bike Zone & because this is usually at the opposite end of the train from where I happen to be standing, I just leave the bike in the door vestibule which has plenty of room for bike with its 4 panniers.

I have just been plotting a journey from Euston to Rugby, & National rail website quotes Avanti (Virgin) but these trains have only 2 bike spaces. However you can go by Chiltern rail if you book via there website from Euston to Rugby & these trains have unallocated space ie space for anything & will take about 5 bikes if try hard enough. You can also use this TOC from Marylebone to Birmingham Moor St. (no need to book your bike again)instead of fighting to get your bike booked in from Euston to Birmingham New street with Avanti/Virgin.

And so the endless confusion goes on. I would think it is time CyclingUK started a bike equivalent of Seat61 to help members.

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RickH
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Re: Train travel despair

Postby RickH » 9 Sep 2020, 4:27pm

tentman wrote:I have just been plotting a journey from Euston to Rugby, & National rail website quotes Avanti (Virgin) but these trains have only 2 bike spaces.

Unless things have been changed due to restrictions because of the pandemic, Avanti have 4 bookable bike spaces on all trains. I've not travelled much by train in recent months & none of those journeys have been with Avanti.

I don't know about other sections of the line but there is often a slight bottleneck at peak times between Wigan & Warrington as there are (or were pre lockdown) a couple of guys who regularly commuted between the two (southbound in the mornings & North in the evening) so 2 slots were regularly taken & therefore not available for through travel. (Having said that I almost never had a problem getting a spot as well when I just rolled up on spec.)

But that shouldn't affect Euston to Rugby unless there is anyone doing similar.