Bike on East Coast Trains

badhorsy
badhorsy Posts: 107
edited February 2014 in Road beginners
Hi all,
looking to take my bike from London to Edinburgh (and back). Has anyone had any experience taking their bikes on East Coast trains?
It seems that you can't just take them on, you have to book a space in a separate carriage in advance? Is this safe enough? I'd hate for my beautiful (and expensive) road bike to get damaged...

Thanks

Comments

  • Ben6899
    Ben6899 Posts: 9,686
    I'm looking forward to seeing replies on this one. I'm looking to take my bike to London. I had a read on the East Coast website: it needs to be booked on the train and then it has to go in the Guard's carriage at the front (or back - next to 1st Class) of the train.

    I was wondering exactly the same as you: how safe/secure is it?
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  • mattward1979
    mattward1979 Posts: 692
    Usually the carriage where you store your bike will have actual bike racks that you can secure your bike to properly.

    Just make sure to let the guard know where you are getting off so that they can meet you at the door ready to let you in to get your bike!
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  • rick_chasey
    rick_chasey Posts: 72,479
    I've done it. You do need to book because you basically put your bike in a cargo hold carriage at the front of the train, where you velcro it to a bike post. I can recommend not venturing too far down the train especially with heavy bags since if you're slow to get to the cargo carriage when you arrive it'll leave with your bike. The station people have a tendency to forget stuff.
  • londonlivvy
    londonlivvy Posts: 644
    I've done this. You must have a reservation (easy to tick the +bike reservation box on t'interweb tho) and you need to show the paperwork in order to put the bike in the guards van. Do put the paperwork on the bike too, to remind the guard where you need to get off.

    The bikes go in the guards van, on a bike rack. You're not allowed to lock your bike to the rack (they quote safety as a reason though I'm not sure why). This made me nervous - checking at every station that no-one made off with my bike. I locked my bike to itself as a deterrent but I wouldn't take my best bike for this reason. You could get one of those fancy locks that shriek or text you if someone moves it to reassure you?

    The guards van (on the trains I went on) was right next to first class. I was told to walk through first class as the train went along, to make sure that I was at the exit, by the guards van, before arrival at my destination station so I just had to step onto the platform and then into the van to get my bike at the station. The guard said that the station was only scheduled to stop for approx 2 mins at the station and were fined £££ by National Rail for every minute longer they stayed. The implication was that if you faff around walking down the platform at the station, they'll leave without you. I suspect this is less of a problem for Edinburgh where it's probably the end destination.
  • Chat to the guard, make sure he identifies you with your bike so you can get it quickly. You'll see him/her on the journey as well so opportunities for some banter - 'have you washed it for me yet??'.

    I'd guess the reason they don't allow you to lock it is so that they can ditch it quickly if you don't come back for it.
  • lastant
    lastant Posts: 526
    The implication was that if you faff around walking down the platform at the station, they'll leave without you. I suspect this is less of a problem for Edinburgh where it's probably the end destination.

    Thought this was going to happen to me at Peterborough on one occasion - the train was heaving with people standing in the vestibules and down the carraiges, so I decided to go and take my reserved seat in Coach B (opposite side of the train to the guard's carriage, usually M-ish).

    Eventually got down towards the carriage where my bike was after the guards had started whistling...luckily one of the crew was waiting with a smile on his face and bike in his hands - pretty sure he was a cyclist too, otherwise I have a feeling I'd have been watching the train sail northbound.

    So...long story short. Get yourself to the right part of the train if your getting on or off at a station that isn't a terminus!
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  • Hi there - I live in Dunbar, which is an occasional stop for East Coast trains. I sometimes stick my bike on the train to Edinburgh in the morning and cycle home. It is a good service in my experience. Yes, you need to book your bike on - it doesnt cost anything, but they have bike racks in the guards van and therefore limited space. It gets busier in Summer. The only problem I have encountered are a couple of occasions when the guard has not spotted me waiting at the guards van (he/she is rarely in the guard's van when the train in in a station!) - and there was a mad panic to get my bike in the van, close the van and shove me into 1st class (which you have to obviouly walk through if you're in Standard). Is your bike safe - I would have thought so. I mean, theortically if you have a Super Record bling machine someone who'se accessing the van at a stop before yours could nick it I guess and leave their sh*tty bike. But I doubt it! You could lock it with a cafe lock or somthing. Anyway, enjoy your trip!
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  • Phil_D
    Phil_D Posts: 467
    Is it a Virgin train?
  • Is it a Virgin train?

    Virgin trains are best avoided on that line IMHO...very limited space, the (limited) space for a bike is on the disabled access carriage near the bogs. If there are a lot of people standing, its a nightmare.
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  • Phil_D
    Phil_D Posts: 467
    I was going to say me and a mate travelled on a Virgin train to do a C2C the other month. We had booked our bikes on. Lucky, as the conductor said they only take a max of 3 bikes. When we got there, there were already 2 bikes on, and they had also been booked on. At the next station 2 more tried to get on and they had also been booked on. And the next.

    What I am trying to say is that if it is the same sort of train we were on then bookings count for nothing as everybody makes them, which kinda negates the point of a booking system if it is still first come first served.
  • estampida
    estampida Posts: 1,008
    as above about needing to book with east coast, you cannot book the bike on with the trainline wed site, possibly the cheapest -(they are bloody useless), and you cannot go to the station early to ammend the reservation to add a bike (seems crazy either there is space or not).

    the few time i have caught the london train (edinburgh to aberdeen) I have tended to go mid pm train (seems not as busy) and have pled ignorance and fortunately they have had space.

    dunno about virgin the, 1 train i was on I had scotrail tix with booking for bike and I was the only person on it, again this seems crazy

    take a cheap bike lock, as if there is no guard area and leave it sitting around guess what might happen (you are not supposed to do this but if I cant see my bike and its not locked up, and no one has custody of it I will not take that risk and there would be no insurace payout)
  • navrig
    navrig Posts: 1,352
    Is it a Virgin train?

    Virgin trains are best avoided on that line IMHO...very limited space, the (limited) space for a bike is on the disabled access carriage near the bogs. If there are a lot of people standing, its a nightmare.

    I've taken my well used MTB on the Cross Country tarins (also from Dunbar funnily enough). The space allowed for the bikes is too small and getting the bike in and out of the space is a nightmare. You have to hang your bike from the front wheel and, in thory, strap it down using the strap attached to the rack. You have to be last on and last off if you want to avoid skinning other peopls shins and ankles.

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  • Hi. I'm glad I came across this thread. I have to admit being a little nervous. I'm going down to the Specialized shop in Harrogate and picking up an S Works. As you can imagine, the thought of letting a 7k bike out of my sight is making me feel a little uneasy.
  • I am please I came around this thread, taking my bike to London from Newcastle for the RideLondon 100 in August. Hoping my Train starts in Newcastle so wont have to worry about rushing it on and it will obviously end in London same on way back.
  • rolf_f
    rolf_f Posts: 16,015
    Hi. I'm glad I came across this thread. I have to admit being a little nervous. I'm going down to the Specialized shop in Harrogate and picking up an S Works. As you can imagine, the thought of letting a 7k bike out of my sight is making me feel a little uneasy.

    You can lock it to the bars in the luggage van and the guard has to open the door for you. It's going to be pretty safe.
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