Cycling using trains (in UK and EU)

Cycle-touring, Expeditions, Adventures, Major cycle routes NOT LeJoG (see other special board)
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beeb
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Cycling using trains (in UK and EU)

Post by beeb »

How easy is it in reality to travel with your touring bike and all your bags on trains in the uk. I might be looking at Inveness or Aviemore to Newcastle or York for example? Ageing cyclist! Can you ask for assistance? There are two of us!
Jdsk
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Re: Travelling with a touring bike on a train in the uk

Post by Jdsk »

There isn't a standard answer: it varies between operators and types of carriage. But we've usually found solutions.

Some of the provision is pretty awful.

There are often limited spaces which must booked. And procedures for booking are very variable.

I suggest starting with The Man in Seat 61, who has some outlinks that should help:
https://www.seat61.com/train-travel-in-britain.htm#bike

Fortunately there are some very helpful people in this forum... those specific routes anyone?

Jonathan
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Traction_man
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Re: Travelling with a touring bike on a train in the uk

Post by Traction_man »

beeb wrote: 19 May 2021, 7:43pm How easy is it in reality to travel with your touring bike and all your bags on trains in the uk. I might be looking at Inveness or Aviemore to Newcastle or York for example? Ageing cyclist! Can you ask for assistance? There are two of us!
it's a bit of a messy picture, with different policies for different TOCs across the network and for different times of the day etc etc, the information is best accessed here

https://www.nationalrail.co.uk/stations ... x#operator

and then following the relevant links to the TOC that runs the routes you're interested in and juggling between these if there is a choice of operating companies on your route to find the most accommodating service.

all the best,

Keith
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Paulatic
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Re: Travelling with a touring bike on a train in the uk

Post by Paulatic »

Inverness/ Avimore will be Scotrail and I’ve had nothing but a positive experience. If you are getting on at the start of the journey you’ll often be invited to get your bike on board before passengers are allowed on. Stowed without luggage attached so it’s helpful if your luggage is quickly detached although I’ve left my tent attached to top of rack without issue. I imagine it can be a little stressful getting on at intermediate stations. From Edinburgh I’d advise getting aboard at Waverley rather than Haymarket.
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horizon
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Re: Travelling with a touring bike on a train in the uk

Post by horizon »

beeb wrote: 19 May 2021, 7:43pm How easy is it in reality to travel with your touring bike and all your bags on trains in the uk.
The good news is that it's possible and not that difficult. The bad news is that it isn't as easy as it could be.

The worst bit is the uncertainty IMV. You are told you have to book blah blah but in reality you just get on with it. The bags don't really come into it as you either take them off to hang your bike or leave them on in local trains. Sometimes you have some unexpected hassle (such as not being able to get on an over-crowded train) but mostly it's simply OK.

If you really are travelling at peak time from or to a popular destination then be sensible and book etc. Otherwise enjoy the fact that it is still free and mostly easier than they say it is.
When the pestilence strikes from the East, go far and breathe the cold air deeply. Ignore the sage, stay not indoors. Ho Ri Zon 12th Century Chinese philosopher
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nick12
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Re: Travelling with a touring bike on a train in the uk

Post by nick12 »

I really don't like the new azuma trains I got one a few weeks ago from york to Leeds booked my ticket at the station with bike reservation no problem. The storage is the problem it's like a wardrobe ment for. two bikes but I couldn't get my bike in. Luckily it was only one station and no other bikes. I have jones bar copy's which doesn't help I suppose. They must be designed for drop bars but even then I bet it's tight. Even with the bags off it won't fit
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simonineaston
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Re: Travelling with a touring bike on a train in the uk

Post by simonineaston »

It's a proper curate's egg... on the one hand, a train journey that goes according to plan, when all the arrangements dovetail neatly, and promises made or implied by train operators, are kept, and when the toilet is working and clean and not either full of indescribable waste or removed from service and when the connections arrive and leave on time and the staff are helpful and kindly (as they can be) and when the train keeps to schedule and you sail quietly and smoothly through delightful country-side, without hitch or hinderance, to arrive exactly as you planned at your destination, your cycle all the while kept safe and sound in the special provision you understood you bought and paid for when you made your reservation - then it's a fabulous experience.
Just don't get too excited about the prospect that it will live up to those expectations... oh and PS, take your own refreshments.
S
(on the look out for Armageddon, on board a Brompton nano & ever-changing Moultons)
wirral_cyclist
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Re: Travelling with a touring bike on a train in the uk

Post by wirral_cyclist »

When we've used the train we've always started at one end of the line (or a long layover station, say Liverpool on WCM) as getting on an already full train is too stressful if the bike spaces are gone, even if you have the bookings they may turf you off as they have no time to find the owners of the unbooked bikes, and they can't have bikes/luggage in gangways.

Even at a terminus it's best to find out which carriage has the bike racks and get your front wheels on the step, or someone with a suitcase will block the spot and disappear then get very lippy when you've moved it, Manchester airport was a real bunfight BITD when those wingy things disgorged hordes with astonishing sized luggage.
Scotrail and TransPennine had a great attitude to bikes, and usually loaded them first, though this was a while ago.
Some great rolling stock now, though small hiccup ongoing with some :roll:
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simonineaston
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Re: Travelling with a touring bike on a train in the uk

Post by simonineaston »

What is so frustrating is that the potential is there for the train and the cycle to combine to offer travel opportunities of great pleasure and utility, but somehow we in the UK * seem to specialize in making the whole experience about as unpleasant, unpredicatable, inconsistant, expensive, disappointing, illogical, difficult and stressful as it possibly could be...
But, I suppose I have to add, when it does, against all the odds, somehow combine, by sheer good fortune and inspite of the best efforts of everybody from the government, the stock providers, the accountants, the "revenue protection" staff, the track maintenance companies, the train managers and the shareholders to scupper the plans as comprehensively as they all can, and all comes together seamlessly, it's GREAT !!
* Over the years, I've travelled fairly extensively on a lot of Europe's rail infrastructure and I can recall the feeling I've nearly always had, when returning from whatever trip it was, and rejoining the UK rail sytem. The contrast between the experience of whatever continental train sytem it was I'd been using and the rickety old slow dirty smelly English trains was always stark and although the stock itself has improved over the years, other sometimes severe down-sides have always been there to make sure I have, as must be obvious, hardly a single good word to say about the UK's rail system - although "system" implies a level of unity and cooperation that is conspicuous in its absence...
S
(on the look out for Armageddon, on board a Brompton nano & ever-changing Moultons)
ChrisF
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Re: Travelling with a touring bike on a train in the uk

Post by ChrisF »

nick12 wrote: 19 May 2021, 10:36pm I really don't like the new azuma trains I got one a few weeks ago from york to Leeds booked my ticket at the station with bike reservation no problem. The storage is the problem it's like a wardrobe ment for. two bikes but I couldn't get my bike in. Luckily it was only one station and no other bikes. I have jones bar copy's which doesn't help I suppose. They must be designed for drop bars but even then I bet it's tight. Even with the bags off it won't fit
Even with drop bars, you wouldn't have got your bike in the hanging space, your tyres are too thick - they wouldn't get into the tiny hooks! It's madness, only sub 35mm tyres will go.
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Traction_man
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Re: Travelling with a touring bike on a train in the uk

Post by Traction_man »

Paulatic wrote: 19 May 2021, 9:45pm Inverness/ Avimore will be Scotrail and I’ve had nothing but a positive experience. If you are getting on at the start of the journey you’ll often be invited to get your bike on board before passengers are allowed on. Stowed without luggage attached so it’s helpful if your luggage is quickly detached although I’ve left my tent attached to top of rack without issue. I imagine it can be a little stressful getting on at intermediate stations. From Edinburgh I’d advise getting aboard at Waverley rather than Haymarket.
For the OP, travelling from Inverness/Aviemore to York will involve one change at least.

Journey Planner (https://ojp.nationalrail.co.uk/service/ ... ney/search) comes up with either Aberdeen or Edinburgh for journeys with only one change en route, eg

Inverness [INV]
10:46

Edinburgh [EDB]
14:25 3h 39m

(ScotRail service from Inverness to Edinburgh)

Edinburgh [EDB]
15:00

York [YRK]
17:30 2h 30m

(London North Eastern Railway service from Edinburgh to London Kings Cross)

£140 adult single 'anytime' fare.

all the best,

Keith
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Paulatic
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Re: Travelling with a touring bike on a train in the uk

Post by Paulatic »

Traction_man wrote: 20 May 2021, 9:39am For the OP, travelling from Inverness/Aviemore to York will involve one change at least.
Of course it will :) EDB to INV £24 for all that scenery is a bargain.
Not sure I’d like the £116 on the ECML.
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Paulatic
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Re: Travelling with a touring bike on a train in the uk

Post by Paulatic »

It’s all going to be so much better and easier on the new Great British Railways. :P
https://apple.news/APBAQA3uqQg-3FWVi0rGemA
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thirdcrank
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Re: Travelling with a touring bike on a train in the uk

Post by thirdcrank »

ChrisF wrote: 20 May 2021, 9:15am
nick12 wrote: 19 May 2021, 10:36pm I really don't like the new azuma trains I got one a few weeks ago from york to Leeds booked my ticket at the station with bike reservation no problem. The storage is the problem it's like a wardrobe ment for. two bikes but I couldn't get my bike in. Luckily it was only one station and no other bikes. I have jones bar copy's which doesn't help I suppose. They must be designed for drop bars but even then I bet it's tight. Even with the bags off it won't fit
Even with drop bars, you wouldn't have got your bike in the hanging space, your tyres are too thick - they wouldn't get into the tiny hooks! It's madness, only sub 35mm tyres will go.
This is really bad news because it presumably also means that no matter how slim the tyres, a bike fitted with full mudguards cannot be hung up by the back wheel. The point here is that it's considerably easier to lift and hang a bike that way, rather than to control the front wheel and lift at the same time
Pendodave
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Re: Travelling with a touring bike on a train in the uk

Post by Pendodave »

Traction_man wrote: 20 May 2021, 9:39am For the OP, travelling from Inverness/Aviemore to York will involve one change at least.
This isn't the case - there is one direct train a day in each direction between inv and kgx, calling at the normal main stations.
0755 from inv
1200 from kgx
It's booked as a class 800, so reservable cupboards for bikes.

Regarding general advice on bikes :
Get there early
Engage with staff to check loading locations
Sort out luggage and be organised well before time
In my experience (from both sides), being proactive, cheerful and polite gets things moving pretty well. Complaining about how **** things are compared to Switzerland/the good old days etc tends not to....

If you have difficulty loading/unloading due to age etc, contact the disability assistance line for the company you are travelling with. Providing it's a staffed station you will probably be able to arrange help.
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