A place to record cyclists using trains

wildnorthlands
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Joined: 15 May 2007, 12:09pm
Location: Sheffield

Re: A place to record cyclists using trains

Postby wildnorthlands » 3 Aug 2009, 10:44am

Sunday 2nd Aug. 17:04 Stockport - Dove Holes.(Northern - Class 156 which has a separate compartment for bikes/heavy luggage) ) 4 of us got on with bikes and there were already 4 bikes on. (people returning from skyride) These were getting off before us so there was a bit of jiggerypokery to be done but the guard was very relaxed about it all. Well done Northern yet again! (Train was lightly loaded apart from cyclists)
Last edited by wildnorthlands on 5 Aug 2009, 12:02pm, edited 1 time in total.

lbomaak2
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Joined: 3 Aug 2009, 12:38pm
Location: Loughborough

Re: A place to record cyclists using trains

Postby lbomaak2 » 3 Aug 2009, 12:50pm

London to Loughborough, ex St. Pancras at 15.55 on a weekday: can't remember the date, but it was a few months ago, before East Midlands Trains new timetable was introduced. The important point is that this was the last train on which off-peak tickets could be used, before the evening peak period. Four bicycles were in the cycle storage area (which only accommodates two) leaving St. P.; at least three of these were not booked on the train, including mine (I had booked on the 15.30, but missed it). The last two cyclists to arrive told me that the train conductor had tried to stop them bringing the bikes on, but they had eventually persuaded him to let them on if they removed the wheels. I'm not sure that a bike frame with two wheels stored separately takes less room than an assembled bike! On arrival at Loughborough, I noticed someone taking a bike out of one of the other carriages, so there were possibly 5 bikes on the train.

Sares
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Joined: 4 Feb 2007, 3:34pm

Re: A place to record cyclists using trains

Postby Sares » 3 Aug 2009, 8:23pm

16:39 on Friday afternoon, B'ham Int. to Milton Keynes, Virgin, had reservation. Guard's van so tons of space, helpful staff, was asked to sit in first class so they'd know where I was (as that was near where the bike was). Returned 15:11 on Sunday, Virgin, Pendolino, had reservation. Staff equally helpful, no problems at all.

10 am Sat, 2 cyclists at Coleshill. Couldn't get on because Crosscountry train was packed. Lady in wheelchair was also not able to get on. Able to get next train 30 min later but missed connection in B'ham New Street to Mid-Wales so had to wait 2 hrs. Took London Midland to Shrewsbury, no problems. Train from Shrewsbury to Tonfannau completely overcrowded but squeezed on, bikes in corridor. Arriva Trains Wales had luggage in tiny cupboard of a bike space.
Returned Sunday 2pm. Got on at Tonfannau, bike spaces already taken so in corridor, but guard changed at Machynlleth, and when new guard saw bikes in corridor, wanted to make someone stand by them in corridor for whole 2 hr journey to move them for refreshments trolley. At B'ham New Street, first train was cancelled so next train was again very crowded: one bike squeezed on and the other was left on the platform. Other bike took next (still crowded) service 30 min later.

wpettersson
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Joined: 7 Feb 2009, 10:15pm

Re: A place to record cyclists using trains

Postby wpettersson » 3 Aug 2009, 10:54pm

July 3rd; London Paddington to Penzance

2 Bikes

2 People

Problems: The train came in late, and we were then rushed on and rushed off leaving little time to secure our bikes as securely as we could in ancient ties and wobbly bars. More importantly, there were only THREE bike spaces for a huge commuter train of 8 carriages! How's this encouraging anyone to ride?!

dave holladay
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Joined: 4 Apr 2007, 12:25pm

Re: A place to record cyclists using trains

Postby dave holladay » 3 Aug 2009, 11:11pm

Interesting - useful information Seres. There is only one* Virgin train which has a 'guards van' that is the relief set VT 64 - now painted to look like a Pendolino, it is scheduled to operate the 1845 London to Preston service on Fridays - so it was probably on its way up to London on your trip. It is the only VT train with bike space at first class end. * a second train can be rustled up in old BR colours. I suspect that this train may have some other regular trips, which will be useful to know about (lots of bike space). The Friday evening trip is supposed to be the one regular journey - handy for London-Lake District.

Option at Coleshill is to ride to Birmingham International if you can hack a couple of miles of fast dual carriageway to back door of NEC. Cross Country has lost the 3-coach trains (now mostly 2 coach trains) all the way to Stansted and frequency much reduced for what is a luggage laden long distance route fudged to also be the Leicester-Birmingham commuter/retail days out route, which gets seriously overloaded South of Leicester where it used to have up to 3 trains/hour. It should really have additional local trains operated by EM Trains (they do run most of the stations but run no trains on that line).

Your Arriva Trains Wales experience is repeated by other reports - The Scottish Government funded removal of the pokey cupboards from these (Class 158) trains which can make it much easier to pack in bikes - potentially 3-4 (officially 2). Potential to lobby Welsh Assembly to fund similar alteration. Amazingly I don't have a good picture of bikes jammed in to the pokey bike cupboard for comparison with these solutions:

Deluxe Scottish Option special Calyx rack with 2 tip up seats

Cheap & cheerful Lancashire solution - 2 wheelbender clips and length of pipe lagging on pole 2-3 tip-up seats

Arriva trains have removed pairs of seats for luggage in the saloon - tie front wheel up on to overhead luggage rack (which remains in place) I tried to post images but having a few problems here

The other problem is the finite number of trains and the decision to reduce some to just 2 coaches in order to put longer trains on N Wales line, creating very seriously overloaded trains to Aberystwyth (Cambrian) and on Central Wales/Hereford routes. One solution used elsewhere is to hire in old coaches and locomotives to run a strategic service which releases the diesel units to double up on other services (Virgin's VT64 train is an example of this). This was done in the past to provide the longer trains for N Wales from Manchester but it costs more to run the old trains and the train operator won't do this unless DfT/Welsh Assembly agree that they can spend the extra money.
Last edited by dave holladay on 3 Aug 2009, 11:40pm, edited 1 time in total.

dave holladay
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Re: A place to record cyclists using trains

Postby dave holladay » 3 Aug 2009, 11:34pm

Odd - Paddington - Penzance trains are HST - 6 bike spaces - official total plus option to use power cars. The record for Coach A is 24 bikes all in a group travelling full journey start to finish, and guard could still get to both doors! (Lothians DA)

FGW is considering the ways to manage Paddington as bikes are always loaded at Country end of the platform and if the train is late this can mean a rush to cover the 200 metres from the barrier line to Coach A (allow 4 minutes at sedate walking pace). Practical train crew will normally let you walk through into passenger saloon inside the train.

Be warned that you may find zealous station staff (Network Rail) who try to prevent you walking to the end of the train to board if the train is about to depart and they think you won't have time to get there. Turn up at least 10 minutes before departure if you can

pal
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Re: A place to record cyclists using trains

Postby pal » 4 Aug 2009, 9:04am

A couple more to add to the list:

Lancaster -- Manchester Oxford Road, Saturday, 15.26 (Transpennine Express service, Glasgow-Manchester Airport): I've tried to get a bike on this train a couple of times (riding out to Lancaster is one of my regular day trips, but I'm too lazy to ride all the way home again..), once with a reservation, once without. On both occasions, I was told that I couldn't board (since the train was already full -- with passengers and their luggage, not other bikes). The first time I tried to argue, and was told by the platform staff that since bikes were carried free, the train company had no obligation to carry them (even if they'd issued a reservation). The second time I didn't bother arguing. Oddly, on both occasions, the next train (16.26, also TP express, Edinburgh-Manchester Airport) had plenty of space (for people, bikes and luggage). But it is a problem that the bike space on these airport trains is also the luggage space and (not unreasonably, for an airport train) is often needed for people's suitcases. Luckily Lancaster station has a nice cafe.

Chester -- Manchester Oxford Road, Sunday 14th June, 15.36 (Arriva Trains Wales): no problems, except with trying to fit the (2) bikes on the train into the tiny cubbyhole assigned for bike storage.

Martin_Edney
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Location: Newcastle upon Tyne

Re: A place to record cyclists using trains

Postby Martin_Edney » 4 Aug 2009, 2:02pm

Daily (weekdays) from Newcastle to Durham and back - I usually use my Brompton, as I got sick of guards moaning at me for not booking (even though there's usually space on the National Express and Cross Country trains I normally use, and it's only one stop). I pay nearly £1000 annually for this privilege, but have been forced to use a folding bike as it's impractical to book a space every single day.

Thursday 23 August, Berwick to Newcastle, 2 loaded touring bikes. Arrived at Berwick station, went to the ticket office to buy tickets and book bike space. Got shouted at by the ticket office woman saying I mustn't bring my bike into the ticket office.

She told me the first train I could book on was in 2 hours time, so booked onto that. Went up to the platform, with the hope of getting onto an earlier train. The first train (NxEC) had no bike space, but the next train (Cross Country) had enough space so we jumped on. Knowing that we were only going one stop, and therefore that we wouldn't be stopping any other cyclists from getting on the train, we were happy to do this.

cjchambers
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Location: Hartlepool

Re: A place to record cyclists using trains

Postby cjchambers » 4 Aug 2009, 5:32pm

Exeter to Durham on Monday's 1223 CrossCountry service

The station staff (First Great Western) on the platform at Exeter were very helpful in directing me to the correct carriage when the train arrived (I think it helps to get there early and make your presence known). Had a cycle reservation booked, but with the exception of a FT-reading bromptonite who joined us at York, mine was the only bike for the whole journey. Just as well, really, as the cycle cubicles soon filled up with pushchairs and suitcases! My only problems were those universal to all rail passengers - bags everywhere, no seats, ghastly toilets,

I do worry about those 'hang up' carriers they have - my bike seemed to be swinging wildly back and forth, whacking the side of the train with every swing. Does this usually happen? Was I doing it wrong?

dave holladay
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Joined: 4 Apr 2007, 12:25pm

Re: A place to record cyclists using trains

Postby dave holladay » 4 Aug 2009, 8:32pm

The hooks used on all Voyager trains are in completely the wrong place and teh only bike which might actually have both wheels in contact with the bulkhead and 2 'wings' which locate the lower wheel are 28" 'Dutch' roadsters (generally the rear wheel is the lower wheel as it is very difficult (sic) to lift a bike up on its front wheel and wheel it back onto the hook... ) The whole design is appalling especially when you consider that a proven design of cycle hanging hook, which works for bikes in almost every position from a slightly lifted front wheel to full vertical hanging has been in use with Swiss trams, and German/Swiss/French trains, and even on some buses, since at least 1995. The design uses the weight of the bike to keep the back, and the front wheel in contact with the wall, floor or reaction plate on the bracket, keeping the bike stable. I used the same design principle in the early 1990's to make bike brackets for the Scotrail 'Explorer' train sets - wheel sizes right down to-349 (Brompton/Moulton) will work if the hook is placed in the right position. Clearly no one either tested the units in service or worked out the most basic principles of hanging up bikes.

With the awkward lifting position (old train = turn right round and lift 10-15Kg at arms length at an angle in a restricted space / modified train = get bike and body through an opening narrower than either of them and lift likewise in a severely resticted space) the designers can hardly have consulted the HSE Manual Handling Regulations, and in the event of any cyclist injuring themselves lifting a bike up there may be a case for a Section 3 prosecution (failure in duty of care towards a non-employee). I have a note from one person whose bike was damaged (by the cleaners equipment in the bike space) and their correspondence with Cross Country relating to this.

Some of the Arriva Trains Wales issues seem to relate to having the normal 4 coaches on a train cut back to 2 (railway staff noted this to a respondent reporting back off-forum) so that the other coaches can be used to mitigate even worse overcrowding on the N Wales line, and I've had some incidental reports of the Cardiff Portsmouth service being reduced from 3 to 2 coaches, and the very finite number of diesel trains gets stretched over more and more demand for services, with the DfT grand plan only ordering 202 new diesel coaches for the entire network.

I suspect that some of the problems we encounter trying to travel with cycles are being exascerbated by the trains being formed from a reduced number of units (it would be interesting to find out how widespread this is), so that all the contracted trains are delivered which may technically be challenged as a failure to deliver to the franchise contract if the details are recorded, but this avoids the alternative of cancelling a train which is a rather more obvious failure to deliver the contracted service. I suspect that many London commuters will have experienced this - Southern notably reduced train sizes officially in 2004-2005 at the time of their heavy enforcement of the bike ban* as a way to reduce the number of train units required, running 4 vice 8 and 8 vice 12 coaches, and of course banning bikes means that more passengers can be fitted onto shorter trains, and the leasing costs are reduced because they pay for fewer units. *many of those cyclists reporting their experiences to the CTCT protest website noted that their trains had been reduced in length.

cjchambers
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Location: Hartlepool

Re: A place to record cyclists using trains

Postby cjchambers » 4 Aug 2009, 10:09pm

dave holladay wrote:Clearly no one either tested the units in service or worked out the most basic principles of hanging up bikes.


Wasn't just me then. Hmph - how useless. Especially if, as you say, there are already proven designs out there!

dave holladay wrote:get bike and body through an opening narrower than either of them and lift likewise in a severely resticted space


It also means that if your bike is at the far end of a double hook, you may have to unhook someone else's bike to get yours out. Ermm . . . . now try doing that with 12 people crammed in the vestibule!

dave holladay
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Joined: 4 Apr 2007, 12:25pm

Re: A place to record cyclists using trains

Postby dave holladay » 4 Aug 2009, 10:16pm

If you have your own 'take' on the design of the Voyager hooks and pictures of your bike/you trying to get the thing to work - send in a comment to Cross Country Trains and see what their response is. It will soon be apparent if they are sending out a standard reply (you'll compare notes with everyone else!), and if you are not satisfied with the answer you get, then send it to Passenger Focus.

wildnorthlands
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Joined: 15 May 2007, 12:09pm
Location: Sheffield

Re: A place to record cyclists using trains

Postby wildnorthlands » 4 Aug 2009, 11:06pm

Met with Dave Stevens (sustrans) this evening to look at the route through Beeley Woods(Oughtibridge-Sheffield) which we are hoping to get in place over the winter. At the station we ran into a council officer who was expressing his frustration with trying to book his bike to Glasgow with a stop-off in Preston.We were talking about how you get to know who which booking clerk knows how to work the system effectively at your local station, and who's not very good at it. This lead us to think that it would be good if there was one booking clerk who had received "advanced training" in booking bikes on trains at larger stations, and you could then wait for them at a special window. Not sure how feasible that is though.

On his way home Dave had the choice of a slow train that would definitely take his bike, or the risk of waiting for the XC train where it would be up to the discretion of the guard. He took the slow train so that meant he would get back to Bradford at least an hour later than he needed to. Not a good choice to have to make really.

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Swizz69
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Re: A place to record cyclists using trains

Postby Swizz69 » 7 Aug 2009, 5:38pm

Just got back from York.

With Missus & 2 kids, took along 1 tandem & pre-booked bike space (counted as 2 bikes) + 1 stripped down mountain bike in a decathlon bike bag (blagged as 'luggage' :wink: )

Mon 3rd from Stalybridge to York - Transpennine Express. Keen Conductor took us to the correct carraige & cleared a couple of people sat in the bike area, where we left the tandem & bike bag. A family were already sat in our reserved seats near the bikes, but we didn't want to uproot them if another table seat was free, so we were herded to the other end of the train, and the conductor came to give us a heads-up as we approached York. He reckoned there would be a rush of people getting on & indeed there was :shock: An older couple just threw a deaf 'un when I asked them to wait a minute to get the tandem off - but no, onwards they went and stood with suitcase right on the corner I was negotiating (aren't some people clever?) All credit to the Conductor, he told us getting on that 'time is money' and it seems that the service runs on a tight schedule so we were glad he was helpful!

Fri 7th from York to Stalybridge - Transpennine Express again. Didn't see the Conductor until we set off. Couple with a pushchair headed for the bike area - aarrgghh. I explained we had reserved it & looking at the bike they understood immedietly that we didn't have many options :D They found another space - I would have moved if we could have - our youngest is just out of her pushchair & we know how awkward they can be. Otherwise there were no problems.

Thankfully the train journeys went better than expected. The train staff were helpful & if there is one thing that could be improved it is the bike storage. I know a tandem makes things awkward too, but a separate compartment for bikes & outsize luggage would make things easier. Part of the problem for us was that as the storage area had seating for & aft, people were clamboring to get on & off through the same door.

pal
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Joined: 22 Mar 2008, 11:49am

Re: A place to record cyclists using trains

Postby pal » 8 Aug 2009, 6:33pm

A quick trip to Wales today:

07.53 Manchester Ox. Rd -- Colwyn Bay (Arriva Trains Wales, Manchester - Llandudno service); 3 bikes on the train (which was about half full), and quite a few suitcases in the luggage area, so my bike (the last on) was blocking the corridor a bit, but the guard didn't seem bothered.

15.50 (ish) Chester -- Manchester Ox. Rd (Arriva again): train quite full; 2 prams and a very stressed mother occupying the bike area, so my bike and I sat in the vestibule for the whole trip -- again, the guard seemed relaxed about that (and explained that she could ask the mother/prams to move if I wanted, but was also happy just to leave us all as we were). I think I was the only cyclist on the train, though about 4 bikes (2 of them bmxes) got off at Chester.

Overall, a good trip, especially in terms of helpful (and sensible) action from the train staff.