The basics of taking a bike on a UK train

Cycle-touring, Expeditions, Adventures, Major cycle routes NOT LeJoG (see other special board)
pan8011619
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Re: The basics of taking a bike on a UK train

Postby pan8011619 » 28 Apr 2011, 5:49am

Scotrail actively encourage cycle use. See website most trains require no reservation, although its advised for tourist routes((Fortwilliam or oban)
Indeed if you book your ticket they insure you in the event of mechanical breakdown accident to get you to the train.
Peter

geocycle
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Re: The basics of taking a bike on a UK train

Postby geocycle » 28 Apr 2011, 9:53am

pan8011619 wrote:Scotrail actively encourage cycle use. See website most trains require no reservation, although its advised for tourist routes((Fortwilliam or oban)
Indeed if you book your ticket they insure you in the event of mechanical breakdown accident to get you to the train.
Peter


Really?, well that's a definite imrpovement. I found staff at Inverness less than helpful even though I had a reservation -the only problem I have had. For me the best have been Northern rail who always have been very flexible and do not require a reservation. Virgin are also helpful but you do have to reserve.

In one sense I like to be able to reserve a space as you know you will be OK. But, the downside is not being able to finish a ride early (or late) and still be sure to be able to get the next train home.

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Swallow
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Re: The basics of taking a bike on a UK train

Postby Swallow » 28 Apr 2011, 11:47am

It must depend on the operator or possibly the member of staff on duty at the time. I once returned from France with a friend, both with cycles, earlier than expected. We spoke to the chap on the ticket desk and although we were booked with the bikes on a latter train, he swapped the tickets with no hesitation. It was a Sunday afternoon so maybe a bit quiet or perhaps we were just lucky. :D
'Kernow bys Vyken'

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bikes4two
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Re: The basics of taking a bike on a UK train

Postby bikes4two » 28 Apr 2011, 9:39pm

Looks like a fair mix of good and bad experiences here, but to add mine to the pile:
1. Try to avoid travelling peak week-day times and especially sunny week-ends.
2. DEFINITELY book if you can and going too a rail ticket office seems easier than on-line. Get to know the best booking office clerk in your local station - some are more expert than others when it comes to bike bookings
3. Be prepared to remove your panniers etc to get the bike into a small space
4. Be prepared to accept the odd knock and scrape to your bike.
5. Leave some flex in your schedule in case you have to wait for the next train (one sunny sunday, the first train was so full you couldn't get more pasengers on, let alone a bike!)

Overall, I've found rail staff helpful and they'll get you on board if they can. Arriva trains and National Express were very helpful but that's down to the individual rather than the company I suspect.
Without my stoker, every trip would only be half a journey

andy_scot_uk
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Re: The basics of taking a bike on a UK train

Postby andy_scot_uk » 2 May 2011, 11:37am

Scotrail have just changed their policy on bikes - we got on a train with potentially 9 cycle spaces and the guard said he had received an instruction that only two bikes per train were allowed. He was a apologetic and even showed us the instruction on paper. He relented ( thank goodness). I want to travel to dumfries next week from near edinburgh, and have to get three trains with my bike. Only the middle train edinburgh to carlisle is bookable so I will just opt to rent when I get there and leave my bike at home.

In answer to the original poster my opinion would be always have a backup plan in case you don't get on.

johnsie
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Re: The basics of taking a bike on a UK train

Postby johnsie » 5 May 2011, 1:08pm

This is from Mrs Johnsie.....

Just a word of warning to anyone hoping to take their bike on an East Midland train.......... ignore any advice given to you by the station where you book your tickets – especially if they say you don’t need a reservation for your bike on the Norwich / Manchester line, and check directly with East Midland. Or you might end up in the same situation as my daughter – she’s back in Penrith, and her bike is in our garage in Norfolk...........

What chance the rail company funding a trip for me and Mrs Johnsie to the Lake District to deliver the bike?
Screech like a Sirrus!

pal
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Re: The basics of taking a bike on a UK train

Postby pal » 18 May 2011, 5:55pm

Taking a bike on a train might be a pain at times, but perhaps we should be grateful that we aren't members of the Pony Touring Club ...!
http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/may/18/horse-carriage-man-tries-board-train-pony

sjs
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Re: The basics of taking a bike on a UK train

Postby sjs » 20 May 2011, 8:13am

Just returned from a longish C2C, from Barmouth to Skegness, which involved travel from Hitchin to Barmouth by train, with changes at Peterborough, Birmingham New Street and Machynlleth. I was a bit apprehensive about the journey, but in the event everything went very smoothly. I booked tickets and cycle reservations on the East Coast website.

By the way splitting the journey into separate trips between the changes cost about half as much (~£35) as buying a single trip, even though the times and trains were identical. Time someone created a website to optimise journey splits and minimise total cost for rail travel.

tramponabike
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Re: The basics of taking a bike on a UK train

Postby tramponabike » 23 Jun 2011, 8:49pm

Malaconotus wrote:Actually, is there anyone with a horror story about travelling by train with bike in the north of England? The negative stories seem to have a southern bias?


Sorry, it's an old thread but you did ask and I still need the therapy.

As requested...

On a recent return trip from Skipton to Berwick my train journey was made so stressful by rules, regulations, and procedures that even the staff involved don't understand, that I now do the trip by bike.

Booked an open return in advance at Skipton. No booking available for bike from Skipton to Leeds, guards discretion! Compulsory booking for bike from Leeds to Berwick.

This journey was ruined by a jobsworth of an aggressive guard, resulting in my breaking the journey at Durham to change trains and hope for a guard who wasn't ex hitler youth.

That paled into insignificance when it came to booking my open return journey. Because I had initially booked at a station, none of the online or telephone companies could help. I was told to book at the station although I was currently staying 35 miles away from Berwick station. When I telephoned Berwick station I was told that I could book my own ticket there but not the bike reservation because the train was run by a different company. I would need to go to Edinburgh to book my bike on a train from Berwick! After numerous circular phone calls, a ruse was devised whereby I should present at Berwick station at least one hour before my train left its departure station. The staff at Berwick would then phone Edinburgh, the originating station, and book my bike place.

Needless to say, after arriving at Berwick over 2 hrs before my train, the staff there would have nothing to do with this scam devised by some now anonymous person on the phone. I simply had to wait the 2 hours with no booking for my bike hoping that the dragon guard of my outward journey was on a day off. The guard was in fact sympathetic and let me and the bike on with repeated utterances about not being supposed to.

The next problem was when I realised that I would have to change at York. Another risk of an unbooked cycle space. However it turned out not to be a problem as the York to Leeds train was run by a different company and did not require cycle booking. That didn't make the journey problem free though. While waiting on the platform, I walked approximately 10 - 15 steps to look at the overhead information display. Within 3 minutes there was a dire warning over the tanoy that the unattended bicycle on platform X would be taken away and destroyed if it's owner didn't return immediately. I hadn't even moved away enough to warrant locking it. Surely they would ask the person nearest the bike before such an overreaction. Anyone concerned could have easily recognised me as the likely owner, Bright shell jacket with hivis stripes, right trouser leg tucked in sock. Anyway I convinced the goons homing in on my bike that I was not Al Qaeda on tour. When I asked about the over 1,000 unattended cycles in racks on the opposite platform they explained that they were not unattended but were parked. It's good to know our security is in such dependable hands.

As the train entered the station I was again accosted by another rail employee who shouted as he ran past that if I wanted to get "that thing" on this train, I should get a bloody move on. I ran down the platform after him and asked what the problem was. He said that they had to change refreshment trolleys and didn't have time to mess about. It's a pity that the train driver didn't realise this as he failed to stop soon enough and the guards van doors ended up beyond the platform. The guard on the platform and another one from the train manhandled the food (?) trolleys over those slats the railways use to prevent easy walking and disappeared saying passengers could not use that door as it was unsafe and they would be trespassing.

As trespassing seemed a minor misdemeanor after my recent status of suspected terrorist I lifted my bike overhead, panniers and all, and trespassed my way to the door. (doesn't anger give you strength?) With no platform to stand on it was a long way up but I managed to get it in and climbed up after it.

Like I said... I now cycle the 250 mile round trip to visit my parents. It's far easier.

Let the train take the strain? yea right

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Trigger
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Re: The basics of taking a bike on a UK train

Postby Trigger » 23 Jun 2011, 9:58pm

Does anyone know what it's like on those small two carriage hopper type trains that just run on local routes? I've booked a journey with 6 changes (out and return) and even though one of the legs is the same returning as going there is no option to book a bike space, I take this because it's just small local train on a short route. Do you just walk on?

I'm no fan of public transport and this will be my first time taking a bike on a train, I can't even remember the last time I used one, never mind taking something like a bike on one!

tramponabike
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Joined: 19 Jun 2011, 11:17pm

Re: The basics of taking a bike on a UK train

Postby tramponabike » 23 Jun 2011, 10:15pm

I think in general the smaller local trains are the least problematic. Best to avoid peak times though.

My own problems were primarily due to the presurised, poorly trained staff and the miryad of different companies involved in running both the trains and the stations.

RAK1963
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Re: The basics of taking a bike on a UK train

Postby RAK1963 » 23 Jun 2011, 10:21pm

Of no use to anyone on this thread ...... but it did use to be possible:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kP1KxPjh4RM

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Dr.Doo
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Re: The basics of taking a bike on a UK train

Postby Dr.Doo » 24 Jun 2011, 12:16am

I took my bike on a train for the first time last weekend. I phoned the local station to find out policy on getting my bike onto a Transpennine train. I was told that I couldn't book a bike space but should just turn up at the station and hope that there weren't 2 people ahead of me with bikes. I can travel at off-peak times which I think helps.

vjosullivan
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Re: The basics of taking a bike on a UK train

Postby vjosullivan » 24 Jun 2011, 7:50am

...the staff involved don't understand...
...jobsworth...
...aggressive guard...
...ex hitler youth...
...a ruse...
...scam...
...dragon guard...
...dire warning...
...overreaction...
...goons...
...Al Qaeda...
...accosted...
...manhandled...
...suspected terrorist...

Life is definitely easier down south. Maybe it being warmer and sunnier down here brings out the better in people?
E25

Malaconotus
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Re: The basics of taking a bike on a UK train

Postby Malaconotus » 24 Jun 2011, 9:03am

Dr.Doo wrote:I took my bike on a train for the first time last weekend. I phoned the local station to find out policy on getting my bike onto a Transpennine train. I was told that I couldn't book a bike space but should just turn up at the station and hope that there weren't 2 people ahead of me with bikes. I can travel at off-peak times which I think helps.


There were four bikes on the Harrogate-Leeds 3-carriage local train on Tuesday afternoon, including mine. Three of us got on together at Hornbeam Park with no problem. I make local journeys like this very regularly on Northern and Transpennine and have never had a guard refuse to let extra bikes on.

I notice that the tale of woe above concerned travelling longer distances with an open return ticket, which made booking a bike for a specific train very difficult. I can see how and why that might be complicated. All my longer jaunts have been pre-booked to get substantially discounted fares; knowing exactly which train I'll be on weeks in advance seems to help, although I appreciate for many this degree of planning is difficult or inconvenient.

I'm off to Arran for three days on Tuesday; starting from home in Leeds the total cost of all train travel, ferry, and accommodation for my trip will be under £50. I expect the travel part to be as trouble-free as all my other bikes on trains experiences have been.