Guardian article re bikes on trains

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Guardian article re bikes on trains

Post by Borderer » Mon Nov 04, 2019 11:29 am

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyl ... age-trains

In a nutshell - vertical storage facilities allow train companies to comply with regulations requiring them to provide bike storage but these are too small or impractical to actually be of use.

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Re: Guardian article re bikes on trains

Post by In Reverse » Mon Nov 04, 2019 12:30 pm

The main rationale given is quite depressing. Rail services are busy, space is limited, and vertical is the best way to fulfil the contractual obligation to carry some bikes without taking up much room.
There's the nub of it. The rail network barely has capacity to carry enough people on a lot of the lines so floor space for bikes will always be a much lower priority.

Unfortunatley until HS2 is built we're not going to see much of an increase in capacity anywhere on the network so I can't see this changing any time soon.

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Re: Guardian article re bikes on trains

Post by RIP » Mon Nov 04, 2019 12:39 pm

Well spotted B. "so few bicycles are narrow or light enough to fit" - indeed. As described, riders just do the best they can and often leave the bike sticking out into the corridor. When I've done that I've never been heckled, but if so I'd say, well I reserved the space and am using it to the best of my ability.
Last edited by RIP on Mon Nov 04, 2019 7:02 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Guardian article re bikes on trains

Post by PaulB2 » Mon Nov 04, 2019 12:59 pm

This is why I take my bike to the train station and don't bother taking it on the train for the mile / mile and a half walk at the other end. The cross-country train that has theoretical room for 3 vertically hanging bikes that in reality either have luggage in, a person in or in the case of the compartment for two bikes, the higher of the two hooks can only fit narrow tyres on narrow rims all presuming that neither bike has wide handlebars. Fat bikes and plus bikes need not apply in any of the 3 spots. In rush hour, you probably won't even be able to get the bike on the train in the first place since the vestibules will be crammed too full of people for people to move let alone make room for the contortions necessary to get a bike into the compartment. The slower london northwest trains are a bit better but you either have to stand in a doorway and move the bike out of the way depending on which side the platform is on or you sit with your bike perched in front of you in the disabled section of the train.

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Re: Guardian article re bikes on trains

Post by benp1 » Mon Nov 04, 2019 2:28 pm

I took my bike on the train from oxenholme to staveley (having got up from Euston by train). The Brewery in the Staveley yard had an event on and the train was absolutely rammed, standing room only. I managed to squeeze on, leaning on the door with my bike up on it's rear wheel wedged between me, other people and the drivers cab. Thankfully it was only a few stops of madness

Virgin trains also can't seem to book bikes on properly, supposedly only 3 bikes allowed but have seen more than that and all with bookings too! Always managed to fit them on, although wide handlebars don't help. I use a wrap of velcro around my brake lever to stop the bike from moving so much

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Re: Guardian article re bikes on trains

Post by Borderer » Mon Nov 04, 2019 2:53 pm

The tram from Edinburgh airport to the city centre is the worst. There is a little symbol saying there is a bike space, but it doesn't actually equate to a rack or anything - you are expected to stand and hold your bike in front of the entry/exit doors. Now there are doors on either side of the carriage, so the easy thing would be to stand across the non-opening door, but this changes every other station. So you are required to drag your bike across the carriage to stand across the non-opening door between every single stop. It's complete madness. We were laughing but it was utterly farcical.

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Re: Guardian article re bikes on trains

Post by benp1 » Mon Nov 04, 2019 4:18 pm

Borderer wrote:
Mon Nov 04, 2019 2:53 pm
The tram from Edinburgh airport to the city centre is the worst. There is a little symbol saying there is a bike space, but it doesn't actually equate to a rack or anything - you are expected to stand and hold your bike in front of the entry/exit doors. Now there are doors on either side of the carriage, so the easy thing would be to stand across the non-opening door, but this changes every other station. So you are required to drag your bike across the carriage to stand across the non-opening door between every single stop. It's complete madness. We were laughing but it was utterly farcical.
It's ridiculous. I went into London with the kids for the London FreeCycle via my local train. I had me and two young kids, with both their bikes and a 7ft long Surly Big Dummy. We were basically in the way of everyone the whole time, it was quite stressful (as was getting on and off!) :shock:

EDIT - kids loved it though and now have some wonderful memories and pics. Totally worth it!

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Re: Guardian article re bikes on trains

Post by RIP » Mon Nov 04, 2019 6:19 pm

benp1 wrote:
Mon Nov 04, 2019 2:28 pm
Virgin trains also can't seem to book bikes on properly, supposedly only 3 bikes allowed but have seen more than that and all with bookings too!
Cogitating a bit here (don't worry, I'll clean it up afterwards) and I think the only time I had a problem with bikes, in millions of years of regular bikes-on-trains, and maybe I've had a charmed existence, was coming back from Mach (hah!) with my lad and his mate from a two-day visit. I think they were about 14 years old. We'd gone up Friday, tented behind the bike shop on that patch of grass (remember that?), whizzed round Climach-X, then camped just up from Talbontdrain. First time they'd done anything like it (I know, my bad).

Train was late into Wolves on the way back, so missed connection. Tried to get on the one after it but guard point-blank refused - "only 3 allowed" and a female biker was already on. I knew for a fact (sorry Ben) that 4 were allowed and remonstrated strongly with the guard. Anyway, nice lady (sorry Borderer) very kindly bailed onto following train and we got on, much to guard's annoyance so all was well in the end. What pee'd me off was the guard must have known 4 were allowed and could see I had two tired kids - sadist really.

I've gone all nostalgic for proper guard's vans again now. 1983 at Bath Spa, with my chums Jeff and Mad Mike (who had surely one of the first MTB's in the country at the time as well, & he got me into it):

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Last edited by RIP on Mon Nov 04, 2019 9:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Guardian article re bikes on trains

Post by Bearbonesnorm » Mon Nov 04, 2019 6:34 pm

You might be the man to ask Reg ... what was actually wrong with proper guards vans? I've known people stick motorbikes in them in years gone by. Seems like not having them anymore is missing a trick.
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Re: Guardian article re bikes on trains

Post by benconnolli » Mon Nov 04, 2019 6:48 pm

Agreed it is bad. The train companies see bikes as an obligation and an inconvenience. From a business point of view they are bad. Train space has a value and bikes do not have as high value as seats. Equally, the guard spending time sorting out the guards van is an expense with a bad return.
That being said, I exclusively use bikes and trains for transport and been forced onto a later train exactly once by a jobsworth Virgin employee despite never booking in advance. I am voting with my wallet and boycotting Virgin trains after this, as it feels the way to get companies to listen to you. The system does fundamentally work most of the time for most train users. I do have the mindset to find the funny side in the minor inconveniences thrown at me and only travel off peak. If I had to commute daily with my bike then that would be the final straw for me getting to one of those fantastic bromptons.

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Re: Guardian article re bikes on trains

Post by htrider » Mon Nov 04, 2019 6:57 pm

Guards vans are a waste of space as far as train companies are concerned, its all about packing them in, innit!
We squeezed 3 plus bikes, one fat bike, 6 normal mountainbikes and a huge framed tourer into the 12 vertical hangers on the train from Fort Bill to Tyndrum in May. This was with an accommodating guard (very as he didn't charge us!) Ironically it was the tourer that didn't fit upright and took up three spaces......

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Re: Guardian article re bikes on trains

Post by RIP » Mon Nov 04, 2019 7:21 pm

"what was actually wrong with proper guards vans?" - as said above, yep, simply because using up valuable passenger space. Also, the vans carried a fair amount of mailbags (and motorbikes!) and those moved onto dedicated mail trains (or ended up on the road - almost as daft as my post now being driven half a mile in a van from the sorting office rather than on a bike). Carriages with large guards/mail/goods spaces were effectively a 150-year-old design continued into the 1960s and even the 1980s IC125 trains, so when the next generation of trains were built in the 1990's they thought "right, a body is a better-paying item than a mailbag/motorbike/bike". Accountants, tchoh! Next stage of cramming people in was obviously swapping tables for those hateful 'airline' seats that don't line up with the windows. Don't start me. Oh, you have :grin: .

"boycotting Virgin trains" - presumably you'll have to tell them each time Ben or they won't know you've done it :grin: .
Last edited by RIP on Mon Nov 04, 2019 9:25 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Guardian article re bikes on trains

Post by Bearbonesnorm » Mon Nov 04, 2019 7:46 pm

Sorry, I was trying to kid myself that there might actually be a good reason but it obviously comes down to nothing greater than greed ............. again. :roll:
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Re: Guardian article re bikes on trains

Post by whitestone » Mon Nov 04, 2019 8:13 pm

Stu, I think it's more a case of everything just being so busy. Our local line is the Airedale Line between Leeds/Bradford and Skipton. When we moved here (18 years ago now :shock: ) most of the trains were two carriage Sprinters and were packed. Now they are 4 car class 333s and are still packed. By packed I mean standing room only during peak hours.

Outside peak hours they are still busy but you can usually stand with your bike in the door area (there are the vertical hanging hooks as well) without getting in people's way as the platforms all arrive to the same side.

No guards van? Well about half the stations are only long enough for four cars so where would the guards van pull up to so that you could put the bike on or take off? The stations and the trains are operated by two different companies, in some cases, particularly Shipley, it's not physically possible to extend the platforms.

The line is run by Northern whose franchise also includes the Settle to Carlisle line (basically the continuation of the Airedale line past Skipton) and the Bentham line which goes from Giggleswick (next to Settle) over to Carnforth. The attitude on these two lines is completely different despite having the same rolling stock and being staffed by the same people: the Settle-Carlisle is "yeah, get on mate, no worries" whereas the Bentham line is "have you booked? I'm not sure there's room".
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Re: Guardian article re bikes on trains

Post by benp1 » Mon Nov 04, 2019 8:15 pm

Bearbonesnorm wrote:
Mon Nov 04, 2019 7:46 pm
Sorry, I was trying to kid myself that there might actually be a good reason but it obviously comes down to nothing greater than greed ............. again. :roll:
Or capacity?

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Re: Guardian article re bikes on trains

Post by benp1 » Mon Nov 04, 2019 8:16 pm

I was told by virgin it was three Reg. Although in sure you actually know more than they do!

I’d struggle to boycott Virgin, the only times I’ve used the train recently is to get to the lakes, not sure there’s any other easy way?

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Re: Guardian article re bikes on trains

Post by RIP » Mon Nov 04, 2019 8:37 pm

"greed" - yep you knew all along didn't you Stu :smile: . Another guards van story (we're on a roll here): coming back from Glasgow with some mates. We'd obtained a 4' long driveshaft from a scrapyard (long story) which took two people to lift and which was wrapped up in blue paper hand towels (even longer story). We manhandled it into the guards van. Guard eventually rolls up and stares at it. There's almost nothing else in the van. He says "ye cannae hain that in 'ere lads wi'oot payin'" (ahem). "Er why?". "Fur tis mair than three feet lang y'ken". We were a bit stymied until my mate Trev says "fine, have you got a tape measure?". Checkmate.

Apologies for the language barrier. It can have scary consequences though. Previous day, on late evening train from Glasgow to Kilmarnock. Stereotypical (sorry!) Rab Nesbitt chap gets on somewhere with his chinese takeaway in a bag, in a very merry condition. Proceeds to weave slowly down the aisle interrogating people: "hae ye git a fuk Jamie??". Everyone hides behind newspapers etc. Reaches our group, points at Reg, "hae ye git a fuk Jamie?". Reg shakes head, quaking. Chap asks again pointing at my chest and getting quite agitated, "hae ye GIT A FUK??". Luckily eventually wanders on. Local lady then translates that he wanted a FORK! Bizarrely it turned out that I actually did have a fork poking out of my shirt pocket that I'd used at lunchtime so the poor guy must have thought I was most unhelpful :smile: .
Last edited by RIP on Mon Nov 04, 2019 10:04 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: Guardian article re bikes on trains

Post by RIP » Mon Nov 04, 2019 8:46 pm

They're winding you up too Ben, says 4 here :smile: . - https://trainsupport.custhelp.com/ap ... cycle%3F . Voyagers and Pendodildos.

Yeah I'd be a bit stuck without Virgin-on-the-ridiculous as well so best not heckle them too much or will get blacklisted :smile: .

Lakes alternative? WMT to Stoke, Northern to Manchester Piccadilly, TransPennineExpress to Oxenholme. Take you years though :smile: .
Last edited by RIP on Mon Nov 04, 2019 9:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Guardian article re bikes on trains

Post by benconnolli » Mon Nov 04, 2019 9:19 pm

The Virgin trains I got were usually between Birmingham and London and there are alternatives on that line. As much as is reasonable yes Reg, when I pass the barriers at New Street and the people in the Virgin coats are staffing it, I tell them. They usually look at me blankly or mumble in agreement and I do not expect anything to come of it, but I will still try. I believe that the power in consumer capitalist society lies with the consumers, not the producers, so will continue to fight these tiny battles. Admittedly it is the in the collective mass of consumers, but snowmen start from snowballs. Just look what happened with all these vegetarians.

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Re: Guardian article re bikes on trains

Post by RIP » Mon Nov 04, 2019 9:20 pm

:-bd
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Re: Guardian article re bikes on trains

Post by ScotRoutes » Mon Nov 04, 2019 9:41 pm

On many lines station platforms simply aren't long enough to allow an extra carriage, so priority is given to those full of seats.
More trains might be the answer except that many of the lines are also at full capacity. The likes of HS2 might improve that situation (by separating faster and slower trains), but that doesn't cover everywhere and isn't exactly universally applauded.

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Re: Guardian article re bikes on trains

Post by benp1 » Mon Nov 04, 2019 10:59 pm

Thanks Reg, good link. 4 bikes is a stretch for the space but doable

Staveley is less than 4.5 hrs from home including cycling to Euston. Can’t argue with that and only 2 trains needed, and only one bike booking on the train. Quicker than driving. Don’t fancy having all those train changes

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Re: Guardian article re bikes on trains

Post by Gregsie » Mon Nov 04, 2019 11:45 pm

Was playing with catching the train down for the Winter Ride Thing as I don't particularly enjoy driving these days.

However the thought of encountering a jobsworth guard / train manager / whatever they call them and me either missing the start (coming down on the Saturday) or it being a faff to get back up to Chesterfield on the Sunday is making me think again.

Can remember the good old days in the late eighties slinging my bike in the back of a guards van and none of this maximum number of bikes stuff. Life was a lot simpler then.
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Re: Guardian article re bikes on trains

Post by faustus » Tue Nov 05, 2019 2:50 pm

I've experienced the same annoyances on the GWR, even though they are quite flexible about spaces. We're down to one car in our household for environmental reasons, but it's difficult if I want to go further afield for riding - I just don't like dealing with the stress of it all, and you can be a bit stuffed if connections are missed. I've ended up hiring a car for trips away (which i'd rather not do), as it's cheaper and more flexible and often quicker if I want to go to mid-Wales.

As has been said, it's really just a sign of the whole system being run at full capacity most of the time, so bikes are going to come second. In an ideal world, bikes, trains, and the urban environment would be designed as part of a sustainable transport solution. But you know, our country has never been run like that! :roll:

EDIT: Although I was only a nipper in the 80s, guards vans where pretty much the only good thing about the railways then. It was a bloody awful place to be in almost all respects in comparison to today.

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Re: Guardian article re bikes on trains

Post by Roobell7 » Tue Nov 05, 2019 3:28 pm

HS2 route is about 2 miles from here. Pity we'll need to get to London or Birmingham to use it.
Of course if the Great Central line was still open :|

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