A place to record cyclists using trains

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A place to record cyclists using trains

Postby ChrisPeck » 28 Jul 2009, 4:31pm

This is a thread to make a record of occasions when cyclists use individual trains.

Please feel free to use this thread to keep a record of cycle/rail journeys.

CTC would like to have a record of:

• When and where
• How many bikes
• How many passengers
• Any problems

However the first two – when/where and how many bikes are the most important.

Upload photos to http://www.cyclestreets.net (following instructions)

Many thanks!


Ps – to get you started here is a report of a recent 0732 Cambridge to Liverpool Street service to support the London to Cambridge bike ride.

See images here:


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Re: A place to record cyclists using trains

Postby pal » 29 Jul 2009, 9:45am

My last trip (weekend of 18/19 July):

*Manchester -- Rugby (MAN-Stoke:14.15 Virgin; Stoke-Rugby: 14.54 London Midland) and return (Rugby-Stoke: 16.21 London Midland; Stoke-MAN 17.50 Virgin).
*1 bike (which was the only bike on the Virgin service, both ways; there were a couple of others on the London Midland)
*1 passenger
*No problems (though I've learnt from experience that the (Virgin) platform staff at Stoke are quite up-tight about being sought out and explicitly told that you want to put a bike on a Virgin train, and also strict on checking that you have a reservation; they don't seem to care at all about the London Midland services). London Midland bike area was full of prams and suitcases on return leg, but the train was empty enough that it wasn't a problem to leave bike in doorway.

Do you just want UK services, or are you interested in Europe too?

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Re: A place to record cyclists using trains

Postby ChrisPeck » 30 Jul 2009, 3:03pm

Many thanks, pal.

Please do feel free to submit photos/stories from Europe as well.

It's useful to have a collection of occasions when groups of cyclists use trains and make up a significant proportion of the total passengers. Stories of 'cyclists' specials' such as that operated by National Express for the London to Cambridge (or London to Southend) cycle rides should strengthen the case to provide more space for cycles on new or refurbished trains.

It's also useful to know when and where people travelling individually or in groups are having problems and whether or not they've complained to the rail company.
Last edited by ChrisPeck on 31 Jul 2009, 11:00am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: A place to record cyclists using trains

Postby MJbright » 30 Jul 2009, 6:44pm

A good idea.
On Tuesday I travelled on a morning peak train into Doncaster (train started at Hull) and there were at least 6 bikes on the train, 2 in Class 158 'cupboard, the rest spread over the doorways. Train Conductor clearly was following Northern Rail's advice to staff, 2 bikes per train, but staff should use discretion to fit in more bikes if they can. As far as I could see all cyclists were going to work.

As part of the Voluntary Secretariat to the Northern Rail Cycle Users Forum - meeting of local authority officers, cycling organisations, Cycling England, Northern's staff, Passenger Focus and many others - we are keen to pass on to Northern Rail examples when train staff have exercised discretion in order to assist cyclists. These will be passed on.

The Forum does not deal with individual complaints though, they should be directed to Northern's Managing Director.

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Re: A place to record cyclists using trains

Postby Gisen » 31 Jul 2009, 12:04am

Every week, every working day at least, Oxford - Leamington spa and back at night. Numerous problems, mainly luggage in the cycle space, but also just not enough spaces for bikes. I have to say that although the new crosscountry train layout has 1 less bike space, it seems to be less prone to being full of fat people or luggage than the old 4 spaces ones. Don't know why.

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Re: A place to record cyclists using trains

Postby wildnorthlands » 31 Jul 2009, 2:49pm

Gisen wrote:I have to say that although the new crosscountry train layout has 1 less bike space, it seems to be less prone to being full of fat people or luggage than the old 4 spaces ones. Don't know why.

It's because of where it is on the train. People used to get on at the end, have a look in the carriage, realise it was heaving and pop into the bike space instead. Now they have more space in the corridor for sardine imitations. Plus the new bike space is even less comfortable to stand around in, even if you are the kind of young person who thinks its cool to hang around in the corridor getting in the way even when there are seats available.

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Re: A place to record cyclists using trains

Postby wildnorthlands » 31 Jul 2009, 2:54pm

Anecdotal from a trip to Manchester yesterday: 1 cyclist on the 1810 Sheffield - Man A/p. On the local train to Deansgate, two bikes were already on, and the guard politely asked us to move so another one could get on. I think Northern deserved a higher place on the CTC's league table - I am a bit biased though being another member of their Cycle Forum (the only trainco to have one AFAIK) They are limited by their rolling stock though, mostly two-car trains.

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Re: A place to record cyclists using trains

Postby Nigel » 31 Jul 2009, 2:54pm

I was a bit surprised at the lowly record of the East Anglian train services in the recent Cycle article. I was also surprised at the high rating of a few companies where I regularly hear stories of being told "you can't travel with that bike". However, I only see some of the East Anglian network, not all of it.

Two bits I've used recently:

The mainline Norwich-London trains from Diss to Ipswich where the cycle provision is quite generous; lots of space in the driving car of the loco-hauled stock (its like the old guards/parcels coach of many years ago). I think its officially six bikes, but it could take many many more. Mine was the only bike on a Sunday afternoon. Reasonably padded rail in the luggage area to rest bike against. The straps were missing various buckles, but I am used to this and usually lock my bike to the rail to prevent walk-away thefts and stop it falling over.
Staff were helpful, opened doors etc. efficiently. The guard opened the door ahead of escorting a blind passenger along the platform at Ipswich (trains were terminating at Ipswich due to engineering work, and blind passenger was being escorted to the replacement buses). I'd have happily waited for the blind lady to have been dealt with, she had a bus to catch, I had finished my journey.

Diesel multiple units on the Ipswich Lowestoft service. Not a vast amount of space for bikes in fairly old stock, but room for a couple at one end of the unit. Staff helpful.

In both cases, the bike travelled free. I think its the services into London where the problems arise; both restrictions on bike carriage, and some of the electric multiple units having no bike spaces at all, so bikes have to be held in the entrance doorways.

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Re: A place to record cyclists using trains

Postby birkhead » 31 Jul 2009, 3:06pm

LEJoG journeys 2persons:
19may09 Stonehaven to London Euston change at Edinburgh, London Paddington to Penzance
no problems at all, not even asked to show bike tickets, plenty of space on all trains
these tix were booked via NatExpress website which is the only one where you can reserve bike place onlline
incidentally we travelled via london not just to experience again the adrenalline buz of jousting with taxis on the euston road, but also because the direct train from aberdeen to penzance is run by 4 different companies [sic] and they had not all got their act together at the beginning of the summer booking period, so there were no cheap tix available 12 weeks in advance.
2jun09 thurso to aberdeen via inverness by scotrail. again nae bother here.
subsequently wrote to scotrail person about the shortage of bike spaces onthe north line to inverness. response was that it was a great achievement doubling from 2 to 4 spaces, and ehilst the train was not too busy in early june, it was busier in summer.
also for the record, tho this is a slightly different rail experience, we stayed at http://www.sleeperzzz.com at Rogart Station, strongly recommended.
i also travelled on the north line in early may from helmsdale to inverurie, again pre-booked and nae bother.

Jon Lucas
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Re: A place to record cyclists using trains

Postby Jon Lucas » 31 Jul 2009, 3:25pm

Last Saturday July 25th I travelled with my bike from Par in Cornwall to Westbury in Wiltshire on the 0834 London bound train (10 carriages long). My bike was booked on and labelled, and went into the bike space at the rear of the train (not accessible from the carriages). When the train arrived in Westbury, the last carriage (A) with the bike spaces at the end was left hanging off the back of the platform (we had to go into carriage B to exit). There had been no announcement of this on the train (it was announced for some smaller stations in Cornwall, though with those the front of the train overhung the platform so the bike carriage could be accessed), nor was I warned about it when booking the ticket. The guard was at the far end of the train, invisible amongst all the passengers getting off, but fortunately I found 2 railway workmen who were walking across the lines at the back of the train after it pulled in, and managed to alert them. One of them then used his orange jacket to alert the guard just before he was going to whistle for the train to depart, and managed to clamber up to the bike space door, open it and hand my bike down, saying that if the railway management there caught him doing that he would be liable to punishment. Thus, it ended well for me, but very unnerving at the time.

dave holladay
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Re: A place to record cyclists using trains

Postby dave holladay » 31 Jul 2009, 3:52pm

Thanks Chris and respondents to date on this thread.

What is proving very significant is the percentage of passengers who are travelling with bikes. On 26th July a London Group were 17% of the passenger total on a Sunday morning train (E Croydon-E Grinstead) and we are regularly getting reports that cyclists are providing over 10% of the passengers on a train. Merseyrail and Scotrail's SPT services are a fine place to see this - we have reports of up to 30 in a group ride on a 3-coach train out from Liverpool, and one London group had 11 bikes on a 4-coach train. If you do have time to poll a coach or the whole train it makes a valuable case. My PB's include 100% of passengers Barnstaple-Exeter, and 33% (3 bikes 9 passengers) on 07.15 Watton-Stevenage weekday train (front 3 coaches - rear 3 similar loading)

Even on weekdays when I visit Guildford I try to do a spot count. With CTC and WWF (and ETA) staff all travelling reverse-flow there are often 8-10 bikes on the morning train and the Redhill-Guildford-Reading services regularly exceed 10% on weekdays.

Virgin has been putting up 'wait here' boards for cycle loading and my impression at most stations was that staff were getting much better with the protocols.

To date Cross Country and Passenger Focus claim only one complaint about their bike space being not fit for purpose so rather than just whinge get writing. I measureed up the space the other week and the gap to get 2 bikes through is just 55cm (many bikes have bars up to 70cm) with the hooks less than 30cm from the side panels (ie your bar ends jam against the side and wheel falls off the hook, or a hole is punched/worn in the panels) The best place to stow the bikes is under the parcels shelf. I also have photos of the bike space filled with catering trolley urns - so much for moving the bikes to provide essential space for catering.

Very worryng is a suggestion that the Natex online booking service has lost some of its features. As with any problem the procedure is to report/ask the train operator and if their response is rubbish, move up to complaining to Passenger Focus.

Note that SWT has a special offer for August fares off-peak and they are also putting on longer trains for the Hounslow Skyride and the London Freewheel/Skyride, although the event organisers hadn't seemed to realise this on their website last time I looked, and were obviously concerned about the need for car parking!

Jon Lucas - I think a quiet word on this with FGW as it seems to have slipped their review of short platforms in Cornwall and possibly where the train has to stop at Westbury (it may be that your train should have stopped with the front end off the platform). One option is to keep the door open on the part in the platform until someone sorts the problem out.

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Re: A place to record cyclists using trains

Postby neddy0121 » 31 Jul 2009, 4:07pm

We did the end to end this year in May. The hardest part was organising the transport to and from start and finish. After some investigation I decided that the advance fare on the cross country train from Birmingham to Penzance met our budget / timescales for our start so decided to purchase the tickets. Unfortunately, I was unable to book the bikes on the train at the same as booking the tickets. I was told I would have to phone a month before I was planning to travel to book the bike aboard. Now the train policy is as I belive it, once the ticket is purchased they are basically non-refundable. We were panicking because if we couldn't book the bikes on we were stuck!

Panic over as when phoning one month before travelling we were able to book our bikes onboard. Unfortunately we were only allowed to book 2 bikes onboard for the train to Plymouth. So the third member of our team dismantled his bike in order for us to take it on as hand luggage. Once aboard the train the guard said there were actually 4 bike places on train but they were only allowed to book 2 on in advance. The bike was full assembled in the aisle in 30 mins and was placed with the rest of the bikes. When boarding the Plymouth to Penzance train it was a bun fight, got the bikes on though, but there were more bikes than could be accomodated in the correct area.

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Re: A place to record cyclists using trains

Postby Slowroad » 31 Jul 2009, 5:34pm

Nottingham to St Austell 15.7.09
No major problems. However cycle accomodation on one train meant I was supposed to take all my luggage off and hang the bike up. I tried this but didn't have the strength to hang the bike up while the train was lurching about. Hence I spent the journey standing in the vestibule so I could move my bike so people could get past it at stations.
Bristol to Nottingham 30.7.09
Ditto - same issue on the Crosscountry from Bristol to Birmingham. These are new trains so it's a shame that they've not sorted the cycle arrangements better. Just because they hang up cycles on the continent doesn't mean it's a good idea!
“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

dave holladay
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Re: A place to record cyclists using trains

Postby dave holladay » 31 Jul 2009, 6:47pm

Slowroad - it sounds as if you are in that band of cyclists who the designers providing hang-up hooks don't consider exist - but as Chris's research suggests there is a substantial body of cyclists. many with low upper body strength (after you can ride a basic bike as long as your legs work) , and a number ride cycles because they gain an immense improvement in mobility - with the cycle deliveing the function of a mobility aid - but not recognised as such by DfT Mobility unit - or rail operators.

One amputee currently awaiting a new leg has taken to placing a pad of foam insulation on the top tube and scooting the bike as a faster and less strenuous option to using crutches, I wonder if station staff will try to tell him to get off the bike?

John Holiday
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Re: A place to record cyclists using trains

Postby John Holiday » 31 Jul 2009, 7:50pm

I recently travelled from Wrexham to Shrewsbury (& then on to Aberystwyth) using Wrexham & Shropshire. The staff were very helpful, but I was advised that they were unable to open the Goods/Cycle area within the locomotive unit because the door mechanism had not been cleared for use! This has been going on for over 12 months! I wrote to their Public Relations Department & had an acknowledgement, & they promised to pass on the comment, but not sure whether situation has been resolved.
Have kust been in Italy & Switzerland where the trains all seem to have lots of cycle space. In fact, I collected literature about the Rhaetian Railway where not only were they advertising cycle hire & carriage, but electric assist cycles too!
If only our Railway Companies etc. were so enlightened & forward thinking!