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Bikes On Trains

KonaKurtKonaKurt Posts: 720
edited October 2009 in Commuting chat
Somehow I think I could be opening a can of worms with this one..!

Have you had any problems taking bikes onto trains?
(Ask a silly question, huh?!)

Or do you avoid trains altogether?

KK.

PS: I will save my grumble about Cross Country trains and thaie new 'joke' compartments until later.. :)

Posts

  • mkchu84mkchu84 Posts: 41
    I've taken a full-size bike on trains before. Outside of rush hour it doesn't seem like a problem, I could always find a space. If you are travelling at peak times though, I'd definitely book a space for you bike. Even if there's a space when you get on, if somebody later down the line has a reservation, you'd have to take your bike off so you could get stranded somewhere!

    I have to do the bike-train-bike thing regularly now so I got myself a folder which avoids all the hassle.
  • KonaKurtKonaKurt Posts: 720
    I once found that out the hard way - that if you are taking up a pre-reserved cycle space on a First Great Western train, you and the bike get off and wait for the next train!!

    First come first served does NOT apply!

    I always reseve where I can, although to be fair, some rail stations I have experianced do not seem to have a clue of whether 'spaces' are available or not for certain trains, opting for telling you "if you are lucky, it will not be too busy on your train, you should be ok" instead.

    KK.
  • But have you tried booking your bike space in advance?! Can't do it on the day, cuz then you run the risk of it being full. Can do it in person in advance at the ticket office, but only when the ticket office is manned (i.e. when everyone except the retired and unemployed are busy) but this disqualifies you from the cheapy online advance prices. Can't book the bike space in advance on a website, etc. I ended up having to make 3 separate phone calls to two different numbers involving Indian call centres, just to get a reference number to allow me to get my bike on board. :roll:

    It's all a bit absurd. I couldn't help wonder at how daft it was: I'm phoning India to put my bike on a train to Bristol, and the Indian call centre workers are probably thinking "Reference number? Put it on the carriage roof, Sir, like we do".
  • mhukmhuk Posts: 327
    booking your bike space in advance

    Depends on the train company, destination and time of travel. There's a "bikes on trains" leaflet that outlines who requires booking and limitations.

    I get mine onto the train to Brum around 7am no problem. Getting the bike onto the train home any time after 4pm is not going to happen easily so I cycle home.
  • I travel fairly regularly on a local service from Ipswich to Cambridge run by National Express. I join the train at the first station and have found no problems putting a full sized bike on board. In theory there are only supposed to be a maximum of four bikes on board, but sometimes there are five or six and the guard seems to be fine with it. I have never paid a supplement.
  • Agent57Agent57 Posts: 2,300
    I miss the days when I could just rock up and chuck it in the guard's van. These days, there's limited space for bikes, particularly on what I would have called InterCity trains 20 years ago. Should just do away with "First Class", and use the carriages for bikes and cyclists. It's not like the FC carriages ever have more than a handful of people with more money than sense in them.
    MTB commuter / 531c commuter / CR1 Team 2009 / RockHopper Pro Disc / 10 mile PB: 25:52 (Jun 2014)
  • KonaKurtKonaKurt Posts: 720
    Agent57 wrote:
    I miss the days when I could just rock up and chuck it in the guard's van. These days, there's limited space for bikes, particularly on what I would have called InterCity trains 20 years ago. Should just do away with "First Class", and use the carriages for bikes and cyclists. It's not like the FC carriages ever have more than a handful of people with more money than sense in them.

    YES! I agree completely with all the above! You would think that british train companies would have the sense to realise, that if only they DID turn 1st class coaches into extra cycle (and even pushchair) spaces, they would most likely attract a large amount of regular commuters and business, resulting in lots of extra revenue! As opposed to wasting 1C coaches and then ending up selling 1C seats off cheap as advance special fares which profit them only a small revenue.

    Oh well... ultimatly it is their loss!

    KK.
  • g00seg00se Posts: 2,221
    Wayhay! I can just turn up and drop it of in the guards van! Norwich->London. The guards van is big to - with bike posts and straps.

    They recommend booking a bike reservation - and this can be done online - and I do. However, I only ever seem to be the one with a bike ticket, so there doesn't seem to be an issue.

    This is about the only good things with National Express East Anglia - everything else about it is c**p. :)
  • mhukmhuk Posts: 327
    The leaflet is called "Cycling by Train 2009" by National Rail

    www.nationalrail.co.uk/cyclingbytrain
  • Fireblade96Fireblade96 Posts: 1,123
    I've had the "pleasure" of taking my bikes by train a couple of times lately:

    #1. Took roadie from Reading to Exeter. Booked and reserved in advance. Train had separate bike compartment. Access to available space in bike rack mostly blocked by wooden chocks which I had to move before being able to get my bike into the rack. Velcro straps useless. Harried constantly by fat train bloke (I hesitate to say guard...what're they called now, "dispatch team"? ) to get out of bike compartment so train could leave.
    .
    At next stop, dashed back to check on bike. A surfboard which had been slung in there too had fallen on it. :cry:
    (surfboard removed and placed in a stable position)

    #2. Return journey from Penzance. Booked and reserved.
    Train cancelled. Had to get local service to Plymouth for connection. About 6 bikes stacked one on top of the other in overcrowded carriage. My shiny new bike sandwiched between assorted battered MTBs and BSOs - not happy, managed to prevent most damage by padding with assorted bits of clothing and sitting right beside bikes to keep them all upright.

    #3. Took MTB from Reading to Winchester. Booked & reserved.
    Cross Country have ingenious new bike compartments in which you hang your bike - great idea if your bars can fit in ! I have wide-ish riser bars on the MTB, fortunately I'd cut these down quite a lot so managed to squeeze it in with some twisting. These compartments *might* be a great idea if slightly wider, but no idea how they'd work with other styles of bike.

    #4. MTB Eastbourne - Reading. No bookings possible.
    Train arrived. Asked platform attendant where to load bike. He mumbled and gestured towards rear of train. I set off that way, he started mumbling more loudly and gesturing incomprehensibly. I slung bike in a standard compartment, figured out myself where the bike/disabled carriage was, and changed to it at next stop.

    Train companies hate bikes. Which is a shame, because the combination of cycling and train allows one-way tours without complex car shuttles. The train companies are missing a trick - it would be possible to come up with safe and secure way to stow cycles which would encourage us to use trains, I'd even pay a small premium for that facility.
    Misguided Idealist
  • rontanarontana Posts: 23
    I fully agree with the unbelivably bad cross country trains. I've got exta wide bars and a v high stem extention. Bars won't fit thru the opening unless I trun them but that means it's hanging off the front wheel at an angle which can't do my wheel any good, other option is to have bars outside the rack, but then bike rests on them insted of the back wheel again can't be good for it either. How on earth you are supposed to fit 2 bikes in that space I have no idea. Guess for a long journy I could undo the bolts on the stem so I can turn the bars round 90 degrees. But not on a daily basis

    another thought... If they removed the corridor wall it would be far better, or turned them 90 degrees and had the bikes hanging off the sides of the train i(nsides not outside)
  • HeadhuunterHeadhuunter Posts: 6,494
    I've never had problems off peak on suburban London trains. You're not s'posed to take bikes on the deep level Tube trains, like the Northern LIne, but to be honest I've done it before off peak and no one has batted an eyelid.

    I often travel from St Pancras to Luton with my bike and usually it's not a problem at all. I stick it by the doors on teh suburban type trains, unfortunately it's a bit awkward and you have to wedge it in carefully so that it doesn't fall over, there are no specific bike spaces on trains on the Brighton to Bedford line. Usually it's fine on the "Inter City" Pendolino type trains from St Pancky to Luton too, however I have been told to take the bike to the rear of the train before. One time my bike was crammed in at the back with other bikes and the bloody "guard" cam along and literally picked up my bike and chucked it to one side - bloody [email protected]!

    I went from London to Norwich in the summer and put the bike in the dedicated compartment on the Inter City and it was fine - the train people were very helpful although as mentioned it's a nightmare to reserve a space. They can't do it by phone so I had to go to the ticket office the day before - it was the only time I could get there in office hours. The woman at the counter was v helpful but said that she could only reserve the return journey because "compuer said no" for the outward journey....

    The worst experience I had was on an Inter City to Luton. Was told to put the bike in a rear carriage, but when we arrived at Luton they had not told anyone that the platform was shorter than the train so I had to move forward through the train to get off. This meant I had to hoist my bike onto my shoulder and try to hurry through 2 carriages full of people as quickly as possible without bashing anyone on the head with eth bike wheels or chainring etc before the train left the station.
    Do not write below this line. Office use only.
  • KonaKurtKonaKurt Posts: 720
    I agree guys, CrossCountry train compartments are a complete JOKE!

    Fireblade, I often pop down to Reading and completely sympathize with your experiances. Mumbling panicing fat train blokes are not only about as much use as a chocolate teapot, but are also giving their company a very bad image to quite a large proportian of the commuting public. First Great Western are quite a disgrace in this respect, as are their HST train compartments.

    Which is why I have written to the Managing Directors in person about my experiances, telling them exactly what I think of their 'services' which we bikers pay good money for.

    I will let you all know how I get on. Assuming that I am not strung up in a dungeon by my ankles for my suggestions!


    Since train companies generally only really care about the middle and upper classes travelling 1st class to their cosy city jobs with their briefcases and newspapers, blahdy blah... is a highly predominant upper class person who like cycling, to get on their case about their services...

    ...they might get noticed, after all, money talks.

    KK.
  • spursn17spursn17 Posts: 284
    You're not s'posed to take bikes on the deep level Tube trains, like the Northern LIne, but to be honest I've done it before off peak and no one has batted an eyelid.

    Don't do it, if you're spotted you'll be told to get off the train.
  • HeadhuunterHeadhuunter Posts: 6,494
    spursn17 wrote:
    You're not s'posed to take bikes on the deep level Tube trains, like the Northern LIne, but to be honest I've done it before off peak and no one has batted an eyelid.

    Don't do it, if you're spotted you'll be told to get off the train.

    Probably, but I've done it a few times, admittedly quite late on Sun evenings when there are barely any other passengers, and no one has said a thing. The nearest I got to a telling off is when I went through the manual opening gate at London Bridge after ascending from the Northern Line and the woman at the ticket gate asked which line I had used, when I told her, she just raised her eyebrows and told me I wasn't supposed to use that line then let me through. There has been no embarrassing announcement over the tannoy "will the cyclist on platform 3 of the Northern Line please remove themselves forthwith" or anything...
    Do not write below this line. Office use only.
  • I travel by train with my bike quite a lot and have mostly had no problems.

    I find (particularly on long distance trains) the key is to book a bike slot. This can be done online with national express, on the phone with virgin and with others you have to go to a staffed station and queue up (eg South West Trains).

    On GNER / National Express / Virgin where the bike goes in the guards van, you would not get the bike on board if you didn't have a reservation - they were lovely vans though and bike was secure and safe etc. Though if I had a very nice bike I might have been a little paranoid at stations to see who's taking it off! The staff at virgin were pretty snotty about opening the guards van for me whilst the National Express guys could not have been more charming and helfpul.

    Where there are just bike areas at the end of carriages (eg SWT, Southern), it's very much first come first served and a bit of a bun fight with push chairs / luggage and even if you have booked a slot it won't make any difference. I've given up booking bike slots on these kind of trains and just go to the far end of the platform / cross my fingers / get up early. Again, if I had a very nice bike I'd be paranoid about it getting scratched/ dented / etc.
  • rich_erich_e Posts: 389
    I'm taking the Tube to work this week (Due to a cold).

    A guy was trying to get his bike on to a Victoria Line train this morning.
    Driver and the Station Attendant both came over the intercom telling him to get off, or else the train wouldn't leave.
  • jedsterjedster Posts: 1,717
    YES! I agree completely with all the above! You would think that british train companies would have the sense to realise, that if only they DID turn 1st class coaches into extra cycle (and even pushchair) spaces, they would most likely attract a large amount of regular commuters and business, resulting in lots of extra revenue! As opposed to wasting 1C coaches and then ending up selling 1C seats off cheap as advance special fares which profit them only a small revenue.

    NO! I completely disagree with this! The train operators are pretty sophisticated about "yield management", i.e., how to maximise fare revenue. I'm very confident that they wouldn't make more money by scrapping first class and turning it into a bike and buggy park. I've bet they have spent a lot more time on market research and yield projections than you have :roll:

    I wish they were as good at running trains as they are at extracting fares...
  • RedJohnRedJohn Posts: 272
    Scotrail's usually pretty good :-)
  • wheezeewheezee Posts: 461
    Here's a British Transport film of how things were a few years back.

    CTC, Cyclists Special, 1955: Out for a cushy ride:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kP1KxPjh ... re=related
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