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Eurostar Bike Policy

martdmcmartdmc Posts: 14
edited July 2013 in Commuting general
Unfortunately, I have not found anything on the recent changes of Eurostar bicycle carriage policy here on Bike Radar, though it may be that my search has not been too good, so I have decided to look for your opinions.

My story, in short, is as follows. Last year, I travelled twice to the French Alps, Grenoble and Chambéry, by Eurostar. Before booking my tickets, I carefully studied their T&C and despite the tiring all day journey with numerous changes I chose to go for it. Perhaps being a bit naïve, I expected that any changes in T&C should be readily communicated to customers, I booked my tickets for my journey to Chambéry this June. Everything went right up until my arrival at the Eurostar checkout gate at Gare-du-Nord where, after already around 10 hours journey from Bourg St Maurice, I was bluntly turned away with my bagged bikes. I ended up handing over my bikes to the ‘registered baggage’ after having had to run some distance to the collection point.

This is the story so far and its purpose is to warn you if you are still not aware of this bike not-so-friendly policy. On the other hand, a funny thing to note is that at St Pancras I was let through the checkout gates with my bikes without any problem, perhaps because I was departing at 5.40 am.

And no matter how lucky I then was thanks to my ignorance, I am now facing a new real problem so I have decided to turn to you for advice. Just a couple of days before my holiday in June, I booked tickets to Chambéry for September. I already know that I have to fork out for the carriage of the bikes to Paris and that I will have to make an extra journey with the bikes to St Pancras the day before my actual journey to make sure that my bikes arrive at Paris before me, but what I am concerned about is that I may not be able to collect the bikes at Gare-du-Nord quick enough to catch my connection from Gare-de-Lyon. Do you have any experience in this respect?

And in the end some of my observations:

1. Eurostar tried to dress itself in bike-friendly clothes. Perhaps they were, but now that certainly love money more that cyclists. In contrast to Eurostar, TGV does not have any problems with taking bikes on board. I do not buy to their ‘safety concerns’ as TGV trains go even faster and some of their trains are probably of the same make as those of Eurostar. Also, apparently Eurostar have no problems with accepting bikes as part of the luggage allowance on their ‘premium’ seasonal service to Provence.

2. I was never happy with no-thrills low cost airline trying to skim as much money as possible but one thing I have to say is that they are in most cases quite frank about this. The airline I use quite often sent me a number of warnings about the changes (read it as increases of fees) in their tariff. That is what I missed from Eurostar.

3. And this takes me to the conclusion. Had I known about the change in questions, I would not have booked my ticket for September. Obviously, I will not certainly go with Eurostar next year, assuming that their current policy will continue. I have already found three airlines which can take me to southern France for a comparable, if not a lower, price and one of them apparently does not charge additionally for carrying bikes. I can provide details privately so that I am not accused of advertising.

Well, I am leaving the choice to you folks, and I would welcome to hear from you about your experience with collecting bikes at Gare-du-Nord, particularly with the view of continuing the journey from Gare-de-Lyon.

Posts

  • londoncommuterlondoncommuter Posts: 1,550
    Slightly off topic but Eurostar have different options depending on the size of your bike/bag with the cheapest £10 turn up and go option only available for bagged bikes in bags less than 120cm in length. Almost all bags seem to be fractionally over 120cm (I've just bought one that's 128cm). How strict are they on this?
  • martdmcmartdmc Posts: 14
    Well, my cloth bike bag is well withing the limit, i.e. its biggest dimension is slightly more than 100 cm (the length between the front and rear axles after the wheels are taken off) and this did not stopped them to charge me 29€ for each bike, instead of advertised 15€. Obviously, at that very moment I was so exhausted (the reasons I explained in my original post) and unaware of any tariff that it never occurred to me to protest. Now I am in dispute with Eurostar about this, but so far, after nearly three weeks, have no heard a word from them.

    Responding directly to your question, both from my experience and and from what I have read on the web, their service is not very consistent, hence my post in the first place. I know that this is not very encouraging but this is how I feel .
  • bobinskibobinski Posts: 568
    The changes are a real shame and have pretty much stopped me taking my bike to the Alps this year. I will hire instead. And think about flying next year.

    If you go to road.cc they have a pretty good breakdown of the changes and how you can book a bike on board a train.
  • martdmcmartdmc Posts: 14
    Thanks for that.

    I was thinking about the option of hiring a bike, but I have not found anything. Do you perhaps know a rent-a-bike shop near St Jean de Maurienne?

    On the matter of my complain to Eurostar, they have written a lengthy response which I have not read yet, but at least they have agreed to refund what they overcharged me in Paris last time
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