/ Trains and bikes rant

This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.
Tim Chappell - on 08 Mar 2013
To be honest I'm a bit too knackered to do a proper rant, but I'm sure there are others on here who will come at this with the requisite energy. I'll just supply some ingredient phrases about what happened to me today... So here we go:

--No train from Crowthorne to Reading for an hour so I cycled 9 miles to Reading in the pissing rain

--Stood on First GW from Reading to Paddington cos no seats and dripped

--Rode from Paddington to KGX in the pissing rain

--Attempted to board bike on 1100 to Edinburgh

--Narky female EC employee says "take your bike that way and put it in the guards' van"

--so I do, except the guards' van is locked so I can't, so I make sure it's on the train and retreat into the loo to try and get myself slightly drier

--while I'm in there I hear the guard announce on the tannoy that he's removed from the train "the bike that was blocking my doorway" (it wasn't)

--so I come out and try and put it back on

--and he tells me I can't because it's not booked

--and I say "but it doesn't need to be booked because it's a folding bike"

--and he says "the wheels are too big so it does need to be booked"

--and I say "you've got loads of room in your guards van, I can see through the window that there are no other bikes in there, so why don't we just leave this--or I can fold it up and put it anywhere else you'd like me to"

--and he says "the wheels are too big so it does need to be booked"

--and I say "I've never had this problem before. It's a folding bike, and I don't mind where it goes, and you don't have any problem fitting it on, so what's the problem?"

--and he says "the wheels are too big so it does need to be booked. Go and book it in the booking office"

--and I say "If I do that I'll miss this train"

--and he says "the wheels are too big so it does need to be booked"

--and I say "You're being incredibly petty about this. You could let me put my bike anywhere on this train and it would be fine. Instead you're making things worse for me because you're stressing me out and stopping me getting home, you're making things worse for your employers because you're making them look bad to their customers, and I don't really see how you're making anything better for yourself. Do you?"

--and he says "the wheels are too big so it does need to be booked"

So I caught the next train, and resolved to write to the Transport Minister. For all the good that will do.

Right, there you go, just add water and you've got a rant. Or maybe you don't even need the water by now :-)
coinneach - on 08 Mar 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:

I am awed by your patience and fortitude



I would probably have punched him and not got out of the station.
Dave Kerr - on 08 Mar 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:

If you aren't already a member then join the CTC and add your voice to the many others saying just how shite british trains are.
MG - on 08 Mar 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell: if you wish you can say your seat was broken and there was no wifi and no coach L too. OK it was my train yesterday but if you have the energy to write, why not put it all together?
Orgsm on 08 Mar 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:

There not such rule about wheel size of folding bikes . Was this east coast railways? Did you get his name? I'd put in a serious complaint about that kind of behaviour. It is not acceptable.
Orgsm on 08 Mar 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:


We have no restrictions regarding Brompton style folding cycles that can be safely stowed as normal luggage within the passenger accommodation. Please fold these before boarding and do not reassemble until you have left the train.
Howard J - on 09 Mar 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell: I was once travelling to South Wales with a mountain bike. The train I was going to take couldn't leave because of a points failure so I tried to get on the next train to take a different route. However it was a Virgin and they wouldn't let me on as it wasn't booked - despite being aware of the circumstances, and despite the fact I was only going to the next station. I had to book it onto the next train 20 minutes later. If it happens again I'll just trundle it on board anyway, what can they do? except put me off at the next stop which is where I was going anyway.

Some of the train companies are incredibly unhelpful. I've had other problems with Virgin. It's not just that they provide very limited facilities for bikes, it's their arsey attitude, total unwillingness to be flexible, and complete lack of interest in serving the customer.
Neil Williams - on 09 Mar 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:

Is yours one of the folders with full size wheels? They certainly get in the way on commuter trains, and I would be supportive of a rule of a maximum size to be classed as a folding bike of not much bigger than a Brompton.

That said, on trains with guard's vans there's plenty of room for any type.

Neil
Neil Williams - on 09 Mar 2013
In reply to Neil Williams:

Large ones you can't carry off the platform and have to wheel also get in the way in big crowds, another reason for Brompton size being right for busy trains.

Neil
timjones - on 09 Mar 2013
In reply to Howard J:
>

> Some of the train companies are incredibly unhelpful. I've had other problems with Virgin. It's not just that they provide very limited facilities for bikes, it's their arsey attitude, total unwillingness to be flexible, and complete lack of interest in serving the customer.

They always get pretty stroppy when I try to take my car onboard :-)
Dom Whillans on 09 Mar 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:
i used to travel with my (full size mountain) bike by train... whilst waiting on the platform, i'd remove the wheels and the seatpost, stack them alongside the frame, take the binbags and gaffa tape i had in my rucsac and wrap the bike up (less than 5 minutes). then i'd simply put the bike on the train as luggage. play the buggers at their own game was my feeling, occasionally guards would even watch me do it but there wasn't a damn thing they could do about it ;o)
MHutch - on 09 Mar 2013
In reply to Dom Whillans:

I've had this on the Carlisle Settle line, which can be a pain if it's the last train back from the middle of nowhere! So now like you I remove wheels, hop on the train before the guard realises what's going on and stow it as luggage.
tlm - on 09 Mar 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:

I've only ever bothered to travel once by train with a bike since they started doing all the booking thing. It was incredibly difficult to even BOOK my bike onto the train. I couldn't book it with my ticket, and then when asking by phone (after being put through to multiple people) which trains I could actually take, she went off for about 10 minutes to look for each train individually, instead of just giving me a list. It wasn't possible to book it via the internet.

I like the pack it up in bin bags idea - I always worry if I would just get stuck in some station forever if I missed my booked train.

How I remember those glory days of just turning up, putting it in the guards van and going. I even took my moped on the train in those days! And it was all free!
Nigel Modern on 09 Mar 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell: As I'm getting older and more arsey I might have just said 'I'm staying put what are you going to do about it?' If the train was about to leave he wouldn't have risked missing his departure slot because of our overwhelming target culture which is what is stressing him, making a perfectly reasonable human being into a Nazi (I'm being generous to him), making our NHS unsafe and generally turning our green and pleasant land into one of the outer circles of Dante's Hell.

More considered response is asking for his name ('the guard on the 17:20 to Edinburgh' is probably enough to identify him anyway) and indicating you will write a very reasoned, reasonable letter of complaint, pointing out that opening the guards van would have been quicker than having an argument with a customer.

Alternatively get a Brompton....not a very good ride for any real distance (OK in towns) but very difficult for anyone to bar from a train...or get a bag to put your folder into in emergencies '...that's a bike.....no, it isn't...it's a larger than average luggage item....' (might work) :O)

Thanks for letting me rant, I feel better now...
digby - on 09 Mar 2013
In reply to Nigel Modern:

Undoubtedly he'd have called Transport Police and within minutes you would have been arrested, not delaying the train a jot.

How surprisingly different from the smiley Branson and cheery 'train manager' (who let off a fare dodger!!!) on a recent programme in the series about the railways.
Tim Chappell - on 09 Mar 2013
In reply to Nigel Modern:

The reason I switched from a small-wheeled folder to a large-wheeled is on this forum somewhere; you can probably still find the thread, if you use "tarmac surfing" as a search term :-)

If you don't find it, the executive summary would be: Small wheels can be dangerous if they stick in potholes. On the other hand the small-wheeled bike I had was actually a better ride than the present bike. And while it was very low-geared, which made long straights a bit boring, it was fine over distances. I rode it from St Albans to Oxford and from Harrow to Milton Keynes, trips like that, before it fell apart.
nniff - on 09 Mar 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:

Justified rant.

However, I am fortunate on those days when I take my bike on the train in the morning ( I cycle all the way home in the evening)

Firstly, the trains are quiet.
Secondly, the level crossing often catches me out (the barrier sometimes comes down 8 minutes before the my train arrives because of one coming the other way). All I have to do is wave at the driver and they allow me a little more time to get to the train, as the barrier comes up as soon as the train stops in the station and get on the train.
Finally, they are perfectly happy to a have a full size bike on the train

The only thing that pisses me off is that a single is £9.60 and a return is £11.
wilkesley - on 09 Mar 2013
In reply to nniff:

> The only thing that pisses me off is that a single is £9.60 and a return is £11.

Train fares are a complete joke. This week my wife was trying to book a return to London from Crewe:

- It was cheaper to buy 2 singles rather than a return.
- The initial try at getting a fare from London back to Crewe came up with £80. A bit of jiggery pokery breaking the journey down into stages reduced this to £8 on the *same* train!
ThunderCat - on 09 Mar 2013
In reply to wilkesley:

It does seem a bit mental...I've used the train to get me and by bike to Glasgow and Cumbria a couple of times and although I've never had problems as such, I'm always on edge that there's going to be one...

Some operators let you reserve a space, some seem to have a first come first serve basis...sometimes the guard will huff and puff if you've booked a space but other people have got their bikes on first.

Always stress that if I put mine on first, then other bikers put theres in after mine and then vanish to another carriage, will I have problems getting off if my stop is before there's, etc

And the fact that some trains have a maximum of two spaces per train.

It's worrying and sad that it's easier (and sometines cheaper) to just forget public transport and stick the bike in the car instead.

Torchy - on 09 Mar 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell: I agree about the small wheels...I have a habit of falling off my Brompton.

The main advantage is never being refused on the train...yet
FrankBooth - on 09 Mar 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:
You did well to keep your cool. I got on the London train from Leicester once, and because standard was full, sat myself down in first class(which was only half full) and got on with my work. I basically argued with a jobs-worthy inspector on-and-off for 45 minutes. At one point she accused me of theft (of wi-fi)! The train wasn't going to stop until it got to London, so I frankly couldn't give a shit how much she argued I just ignored her until I got within 10 minutes of London and then slinked off.
Orgsm on 09 Mar 2013
In reply to Neil Williams:
> (In reply to Tim Chappell)
>
> Is yours one of the folders with full size wheels? They certainly get in the way on commuter trains
>
> Neil

London to Edinburgh, hardly a commuter trains. But as per OP rant. Tain companies are shit when dealing with their customers, and who betide if they want to bing a bike on board or maybe a pram, or even have a seat....

teh_mark - on 10 Mar 2013
In reply to Beat me to it!:
> (In reply to Neil Williams)
> [...]
>
Tain companies are shit when dealing with their customers...

Some are, but not all. East Coast are by far the worst offenders these days, which is sad as they used to be particularly good at customer service. I lost my debit card at work the other week, after which I needed to get a train home (London to Newcastle). Ticket was already booked but still need collecting - for which you need your debit card at the ticket machine. I went into the ticket office and explained the situation to the East Coast staff, who claimed that there was nothing at all they could do to help, and that I'd have to call their customer service department (who opened long after my train was supposed to depart) to get the ticket 'transferred' to a different card so that I could collect it.

The solution? I walked ten minutes down the road to Euston, and the nice man from Virgin Trains printed it off for me instead.
Mikkel - on 10 Mar 2013
In reply to teh_mark:
you can use any card to collect from the machines, doesnt have to be the one used to buy them.
teh_mark - on 10 Mar 2013
In reply to Mikkel:

Maybe it depends on the type of machine - I have first hand experience of only being able to collect with the card they were bought with, in a few different stations in London.
Neil Williams - on 10 Mar 2013
In reply to Mikkel:

No longer the case (except for travel agent bookings) since a major fraud was found in Manchester a year or two ago.

Neil
a lakeland climber on 10 Mar 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:

I've generally not had a problem, but then I don't shift my bike around by train very regularly. The most awkward was getting the bikes booked on the West Highland Line last summer but it was on a bank holiday and with a little shifting of dates we sorted things out. Once we were on the train it became apparent why, as all the bike spaces were full and they were having to turn away people who turned up on-spec at mid-way stations. Even Virgin West Coast Main Line were OK, yes you had to book, but other than that it was as hassle free as any travel is likely to be.

Someone mentioned Settle-Carlisle: I've never had a problem with that line but I've been travelling outside the usual commuter hours so we've just about been the only people on the carriage.

Not sure if it's been mentioned before but the old-style guards vans cost the rail companies money for very little usage. On smaller lines you'd be adding 25-50% of weight to the train and on the main lines with the trains with driver's cabs at both ends you have nowhere to put them.

ALC
Mikkel - on 10 Mar 2013
In reply to Neil Williams:

makes sense, as last 2 times i have collected tickets they where bought by work and most likely bought through an agent.
Fat Bumbly2 - on 10 Mar 2013
Meanwhile to the west, I had very positive experiences with both Irish rail services in shifting a bike around. If, as happened, there is a bit of heavy demand in Westport, the staff just got on with it, trying successfully to help everyone.
Brilliant service in Northern Ireland too.

Just the hassle of getting to a ferry port on this side with jobsworths and The Fares.
Nutkey on 10 Mar 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:
I have only once been on a train where I had to book my bike in. I can't remember if I had to pay for the ticket or not. Either way, when the train arrived it was a two carriage jobby with nowhere to put a bike (non-folding) except in the doorway. The guard was rather hacked off, but he did eventually let me on. Then again, this was in 1980, and it wasn't like there was another train in half an hour's time either.
Minneconjou Sioux - on 11 Mar 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:

This is a classic case of assumption driving conflict.

When he found your bike on the train he didn't know that you had gone off to dry yourself so he assumed you had just left it there.

So when you came back and tried to put it back on the arguement became positional.

And as he held the power he didn't need to consider your needs.

So, as you found out, being "within your rights" didn't add up to much.

And complaining to the service provider won't achieve anything as the rules are already in place, its just that, in this case, they weren't followed.

So, the next time you find yourself in this situation, don't just leave your bike where you think it should be and head off to the bog assuming that everyone will understand your plight.

Life don't work like that.
EeeByGum - on 11 Mar 2013
In reply to Dave Kerr:

> If you aren't already a member then join the CTC and add your voice to the many others saying just how shite british trains are.

I am a regular cycle train user and to be fair, the trains actually aren't that bad for cyclists. Now I hate Northern Fail like the next man, but to give them some credit, most of their trains do have dedicated bike racks that don't require a reservation. The same also goes for East Midland trains, Cross Country and Arriva Wales. Virgin require a (free) reservation and you need to notify one of the platform people to open the guards van for you which they are generally happy to do.

I think like most of these sort of situations, when you know how the system works it is generally pretty good. That said, as a cyclist you have to accept that if the train is rammed, you ain't going to get on with your bike, so forward planning and early arrival is paramount if it is busy.
Neil Williams - on 11 Mar 2013
In reply to EeeByGum:

Indeed, just as shite as, say, the German ICE, or the new (and not currently working) Dutch Fyra, and quite a lot of Italian trains on which bicycles are not permitted full stop?

Actually, we get it good. Europe is botching up privatisation in ways we could never have dreamed of, and bicycle carriage is part of that.

Neil
Tim Chappell - on 11 Mar 2013
In reply to EeeByGum:

Your post nicely brings out the inconsistencies between companies--which is part of my gripe. East Coast are the worst by far, in my experience.
Tim Chappell - on 11 Mar 2013
In reply to Neil Williams:

I've been told taking a bike on SNCF is a full-on nightmare, and that on balance it's quicker and more reliable to send your bike to yourself in the post... but my info is old and maybe things have improved in France--anyone know? Enty? Bruce?
silhouette - on 11 Mar 2013
In reply to Neil Williams:
> Indeed, just as shite as, say, the German ICE, or the new (and not currently working) Dutch Fyra, and quite a lot of Italian trains on which bicycles are not permitted full stop?

> Actually, we get it good.

Blasphemy! Everyone knows that everything is bigger and better sur le continont. I know because I read it in the froth on a cappucino.
pasbury on 11 Mar 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:

I have taken one train journey in France with a bike and it was superb. It was on several local trains with a dedicated bike carrying section in one carriage (where the bikes were hung up vertically). Additionally the guy in the ticket office spent 40 minutes working out my route for me. This was several years ago and it would be a pity if things have declined since then.
Neil Williams - on 11 Mar 2013
In reply to pasbury

European trains used to be long, locomotive hauled ones with tons of space for bikes etc. They are, like here, moving towards more use of smaller multiple-unit designs, and often banning bikes rather than providing some compromise to allow say 2 as we do here.

Not everywhere, though. It depends.

What is pretty universal is a fairly hefty fee. On Swiss local trains in Vaud, for instance, you pay the same fare again as you paid for yourself to take a bike. If we charged that, we could probably afford to pay for van space. But there is no fee for bikes on any UK train, the last TOC to charge one abolished it something like 10 years ago.

Neil
mkean - on 11 Mar 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:
Maybe they have previously met me and are taking it out on other people?

Him "You can't bring that bike on here."
Me "It isn't a bike"
Him "It is clearly a bike"
Me "Bikes have 2 wheels"
Him "What is that on your back"
Me "2 bike wheels"
Him "You can't bring that bike on here"
Me "Your rules say this is an item of bulky luggage not a bike"
Him "You'll have to book that bike onto the train"
Me "Or alternatively I could simply place this bulky luggage here and get to my pre-booked seat"
Him "I bet you think you're funny"
Me "No, I just realised it was quicker to have this arguement than it was to try to pre-book a bike."

Sorry ;-)
Mikkel - on 11 Mar 2013
In reply to mkean:

now that was funny :)
New POD - on 11 Mar 2013
Daft question. Folding bike ? Is that bigger or smaller than a large fold up suitcase ?

Last time I took a bike on a train it was a Yamaha RD350LC, about 9 pm one 1987 evening, I had a puncture, no breakdown cover and I was only 2 mins from a commuter train. So I waited hidden at the unmanned entrance to Ainsdale Station, until just before the train arrived, and quickly pushed it into the carriage. the Guard must have been looking the other way, because I arrive at Formby some 5 miles down the line, pushed my motorbike towards to ticket barrier, to be told by the ticket collector, that I'd contravened about 5o rules, but he'd let me off as not to do so would result in about 3 people being sacked. He wouldn't let me pay for a ticket for some reason. Oh thta's right, I didn't actually have enough money and he didn't fancy taking a cheque. Those were the days.
JFH - on 11 Mar 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:
I use Red Spotted Hanky http://www.redspottedhanky.com/ to book train tickets
they have the advantage of no credit card fees
and
You can book your bike on at the 'tick' of a box...easy !
EddInaBox on 12 Mar 2013
Kimono - on 12 Mar 2013
In reply to EddInaBox:
Ah, only in North Wales :)
Tim Chappell - on 13 Mar 2013
March 13 2013
Dear Sir or Madam
I wish to make a complaint about the way I was treated by East Coast employees when I tried to take a folding bike on the 11am train from King’s Cross to Edinburgh on Friday March 8.
I arrived at King’s Cross at about 1052, wet and cold after cycling across London from Paddington to catch the train. I was in a hurry to get home so I was glad to see that there was a train about to go. I attempted to put my folding bike on the train, in the empty guard’s van at the station end of the platform, but it was locked. So I walked down the train looking for somewhere suitable to board it where it wouldn’t be in anyone’s way. As I did so I was confronted by a rather hostile female East Coast employee who ordered me (and that’s the word) to put it in the guard’s van.
I walked my bike back to the guard’s van, which was still locked, and it was now about 1058. So I lifted it onto the train and after waiting for a moment to see if the guard would appear, went into the toilet on the train to try and dry myself a little.
While I was in there I heard the guard announce that he had removed from the train “the bike that was blocking my door” (which it wasn’t: it was in front of his door so it could go through that door once the train had left). I came out quickly and tried to retrieve my folding bike from the platform to get it back on the train. The guard blocked my way and refused me access to the train. He said that I couldn’t bring it on unless it was booked. I said it didn’t need booking because it was a folding bike. He said it did need booking because its wheels were too big. I said there was nothing about wheel size anywhere that I’d ever seen, and in any case that his guard’s van was empty, so there was no reason why it shouldn’t come on board. He refused to listen, so I missed the train.
Fortunately there was another train half an hour later, and another male East Coast employee was extremely helpful in booking me a bike reservation on it. So I am grateful to him. But I have to ask: what were the other two East Coast employees thinking of?
As a cyclist who regularly needs to use trains because of the nature of my work, I’m afraid I get rather used to being treated like dirt by railway employees. But it’s not clear to me why any of this aggravation is necessary. There was no need for the first lady who confronted me to be so aggressive. And there was no need at all for the guard on the train to refuse me access. I was infringing no regulation that I’ve never heard of, and there was, as I say, a completely empty guard’s van just behind him for me to put the bike in. What the guard did in refusing me access was, as I told him, extremely petty. It caused me a lot of completely unnecessary stress, it made East Coast look bad in my eyes and in the eyes of the other customers who saw what happened—who were nodding their heads in agreement with me at the time—and exactly what he, the guard, got out of it I am left to guess.
I have two simple suggestions to make. The first is that you offer me an apology, and whatever compensation for my trouble and stress you may think is appropriate.
The second, and more important, suggestion is that you change your rules about bikes. Why not just have a rule that says (a) that any bike can be boarded on any train provided there’s room for it, and (b) that booking a bike is not necessary, but does secure priority for that bike over unbooked bikes?
In a time when bike travel is supposed to be the new big thing for health and for the environment, and when train companies have everything to gain from getting more cyclists on trains, I can’t for the life of me see why you are (seemingly) going out of your way to make cyclists’ lives difficult, or why my working day has to be made so stressful and miserable by the pointless inflexibility both of your current rules, and of their current enforcement.
I am copying this letter to my MP and to the Minister for Transport. I look forward to your response.
Yours sincerely
Professor Timothy Chappell
Jamming Dodger on 13 Mar 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell: I definitely feel your pain. Ive recently started taking train journeys and once took my road bike on a Virgin train. After being asked about five times by different guards if id booked it on they grudgingly opened the cabin to put it in. When I got to where I was going there was nobody around to unlock the cabin so I had to push the bike through the carriage. This was after spending 20 mins on the phone to India to get a reference number to book it. I had the same issues on the way home and havent taken the bike since.
The way Virgin trains treat bike commuters is nothing short of arrogant.
paul-1970 - on 13 Mar 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:
> I was infringing no regulation that I’ve never heard of...

I've spent ten minutes now trying to understand the existential and epistemological effects of not infringing something that you're not aware of. Could it be one of Donald Rumsfeld's unknown unknowns? ;)
fxceltic on 13 Mar 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell: I hope you are looking forward to the scripted and utterly unhelpful response that will appear in your inbox in just under 28 days time?
Tim Chappell - on 14 Mar 2013
In reply to paul-1970:

Gah.

never/ ever.
Tim Chappell - on 14 Mar 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:

There was a man with a double bass on the train this morning, off to play Schubert in Birmingham. It took up the same room as a bike more or less exactly, but he didn't have to book it.

It also got far more respect from the train staff, but maybe that's reasonable on account of it being worth (he told me) about a thousand times what my bike is.
Neil Williams - on 14 Mar 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:

I bet it also didn't have an oily chain and mucky tyres either. So not quite the same.

Neil
Tim Chappell - on 14 Mar 2013
In reply to Neil Williams:

How dare you! Nor did my bike!
James Gilbert on 14 Mar 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:

Taking bikes on French trains isn't a complete nightmare, but it is complicated.

The website http://www.velo.sncf.com/voyager-avec-son-velo/votre-velo-dans-le-trains/ is an attempt to make the rules clear, unfortunately as soon as you look at the details you realise that it depends on quite a lot of factors.

As an example, on TGVs you have to book your bike in advance (10€ per bike for any journey) but not all TGVs accept bikes, and you can only book by phone, not the internet.
ScraggyGoat on 14 Mar 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:

My partner and I once tried getting home unbooked after I ran out of puff on 100 mile ride. No bikes on, so we broad.

Lady turns up with her three/four year old and small kiddies bike. She's booked and stridently insists that since we haven't, we have to off load one bike...........even though the kiddies trike is smaller than a suit-case and fits on the luggage rack or between our bikes without issue.

Its a shame we can't ship all the intransigent unpragmatic idiots to the moon.
EeeByGum - on 14 Mar 2013
In reply to Jamming Dodger:

> The way Virgin trains treat bike commuters is nothing short of arrogant.

Why did you feel the need to call India when you could have just asked someone at the station?

I got the only train from Manchester to Stockport that doesn't actually stop at Stockport, I ended up in Macclesfield with my bike. Following advice from staff I got a (free) bike reservation there and then and the platform assistant took me to the end of the platform where she let me into the luggage bit. When we got the Stockport, the driver very kindly let me off again so in the future, just knock on the drivers door and they will help you out.

I think as cyclists we have to accept that we are a tiny minority of train users. Where as we take up a tiny amount of space on the road, we take up a large amount of space on a train, especially if it is very full. If you plan your journey carefully and accept that you may not be able to walk straight on with your bike, there generally isn't an issue.
Neil Williams - on 14 Mar 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:

Do you have a belt-driven bike[1], then, and never ride it on the road?

[1] There is a fixie that I regularly see at my local station that has a belt drive and thus no oil on it.

Neil
Neil Williams - on 14 Mar 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:

"(b) that booking a bike is not necessary, but does secure priority for that bike over unbooked bikes?"

Quite simply because there are too many people who would verbally abuse staff or worse if asked to remove their unreserved bicycle, or refuse outright to remove it.

For local journeys "turn up and go" is just about workable. For long-distance, would you really be making a journey to Newcastle and find it OK to be put off at Donny?

Better to have compulsory cycle reservations but make them very easy to obtain at the ticket office, ticket machine and online/from a mobile phone right up to departure, IMO. Then it is possible to be sure.

Neil
Tim Chappell - on 14 Mar 2013
In reply to Neil Williams:

No they wouldn't. The situation for bikes would then be exactly like the situation for seats. I have seen people get abusive when asked to move from reserved seats, but very rarely. No reason to think it would be any worse with unreserved bikes.
Neil Williams - on 15 Mar 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:

Except that there are over 100 seats on most trains, and you can still travel if you haven't got one, whereas there are 2 bike spaces and you can't (usually) travel if you haven't got one.

Neil
EeeByGum - on 15 Mar 2013
In reply to Neil Williams: Interesting trip on the East Midlands train this morning. I think my bike was about the firth to go onto the two bike space and two folding bikes had been conveniently placed in the door so that everyone had to step over them. Ho hum. Don't know whether to be irate about the clear obstruction we were causing or thankful I got on.
ads.ukclimbing.com
captain paranoia - on 15 Mar 2013
In reply to Neil Williams:

> "(b) that booking a bike is not necessary, but does secure priority for that bike over unbooked bikes?"

The last time I booked a bike on a train, I couldn't actually take it on the train; no room...

Then there was the inconsistent policy; when I bought the ticket at Reading, the cashier asked if I wanted to book my bike (for immediate travel). When I bought a ticket at Bournemouth a couple of days later, I asked if I could book my bike (on the same service), and the cashier stated outright that it was impossible to do that. Different OPCOs: First vs SWT...
Neil Williams - on 15 Mar 2013
In reply to captain paranoia:

Generally speaking, for ex-InterCity services you do have to book, and for ex-Regional Railways or ex-Network SouthEast you don't.

The boundaries are somewhat blurred these days, though.

Neil
Tim Chappell - on 25 Mar 2013
In reply to Neil Williams:


Thank you for your email received on 13 March 2013 regarding bicycle space on your recent journey with us.

I was sorry to read that you were unable to travel on the 1100 service from London King’s Cross to Edinburgh on 8 March due to on board issues with your bicycle. East Coast welcomes cyclists who wish to access our services. However, I note your comments regarding the lack of specified restrictions detailing what constitutes a fold up bicycle and what does not. In these circumstances, please be aware that the Train Guard will use his or her own discretion in these circumstances. Nonetheless, please rest assured, your comments have been logged and passed on to the relevant members of staff to review at the upcoming ‘Carriage of Stowed Items’ managers meeting.

We do make space for bicycles on all our trains but, as you can appreciate, space is limited. Generally our main line trains can carry five bicycles. All customers wishing to take a bicycle on their journey must make a reservation. Your bicycle will be stowed in the Guard’s Van.

To make sure you are able to travel with your bicycle next time, please reserve a space with us free of charge 24 hours in advance. You can do this:
• when you book tickets online at www.eastcoast.co.uk;
• when purchasing tickets with our telephone sales team on 08457 225 225 option 2, option 6; or
• if you have already purchased a ticket, by calling into any station travel centre.

As long as you give us at least 24 hours notice, our retail outlets will be happy to help, but please do bear in mind spaces are subject to availability. Please note that you do not have to make a reservation to carry a folding bicycle on one of our trains, as long as it does not exceed our size restrictions, which as I have previously stated, is at the Guards discretion. For more information on our cycle policy please see our website www.eastcoast.co.uk/on-board-our-trains/Baggage-and-Pets/cycles/.

Further to this, I note your request for compensation. At East Coast, our Passenger’s Charter compensates over and above the levels set out in the National Rail Conditions of Carriage (NRCOC) and unfortunately, I must inform you that we do not compensate for matters such as this. I apologise for any disappointment that you may feel from this.

Thank you for getting in touch with us and giving me the chance to explain. We do value your custom and we hope you will use our services again in the future.

Yours sincerely
Tim Chappell - on 25 Mar 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:

This is not a satisfactory response.

1. There should be no question of the guard "using his or her own discretion in these circumstances" if that means that I can't tell till I try to get on the train whether I am going to be arbitrarily banned from using it, as happened.
2. You blandly remark that "space is limited". I've already told you that the guard's van was completely empty.
3. You blandly remark that "All customers wishing to take a bicycle on their journey must make a reservation". Why don't you address my suggestion that you allow unreserved bikes on, if there's room and if there are no reserved bikes which they would prevent from boarding? How does it make sense to refuse a bike entry to a train when there's plenty of room, merely because it's not been booked? Can you really not see how pointlessly inflexible that is?
4. You refuse to compensate me or even to apologise when I've been pointlessly insulted and impeded by two of your employees, then tell me that you value my custom. Do you really not think there might be a bit of tension there?

I am copying this to my MP. I am also circulating it as a warning to my friends about your preposterously inflexible and unhelpful attitudes. Unless you change them, in future I shall be avoiding your trains wherever possible, and campaigning for you to lose your franchise at the earliest opportunity.

Yours sincerely
Murvis on 25 Mar 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell: That's one of the worst cases of janitor's syndrome I've heard! Got worked up just reading it. Hope something positive comes of it.
Tim Chappell - on 25 Mar 2013
In reply to Murvis:


Thanks, Murv. I'm trying not to get worked up; just to change it. It would help if my MP would engage... I'll give him another rowk-up if he fails to respond again.
IainFP on 25 Mar 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:
> (In reply to Tim Chappell)
, and campaigning for you to lose your franchise at the earliest opportunity.
>
> Yours sincerely

Good luck with that, not sure who there is to "lose" it to ;0)
Tim Chappell - on 25 Mar 2013
In reply to IainFP:


OK, my gun's a replica. Shhh ;-)
IainFP on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell: Perhaps you should put a bid together.........
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-21936255

:0)
James Gilbert on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:

If I were to look at the positive side of this reply, I would at least be thankful that, in the course of my career, I am unlikely ever to have to attend a "Carriage of Stowed Items" managers meeting.
Neil Williams - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to James Gilbert:

Quite.

But on the subject of their reply, take care - I suspect that if they introduce a regulation rather than discretion, it's likely to mean "Brompton size only".

24 hours advance reservation is rubbish, though - Virgin Trains require reservation but offer them up to departure.

Neil
Tim Chappell - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to James Gilbert:
> (In reply to Tim Chappell)
>
> If I were to look at the positive side of this reply, I would at least be thankful that, in the course of my career, I am unlikely ever to have to attend a "Carriage of Stowed Items" managers meeting.


Indeed. Some things would be entirely insupportable without quite a lot of gin :-)
Tim Chappell - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to Neil Williams:
>
>
> 24 hours advance reservation is rubbish, though - Virgin Trains require reservation but offer them up to departure.
>


East Coast allow reservations up to departure--that's what I did, went and reserved my bike on the 1130.

But I didn't know this beforehand--I thought you needed a day's notice.
Neil Williams - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:

The reply they gave you seems to suggest they don't know either!

Neil
EeeByGum - on 27 Mar 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:

I think you are being a bit harsh Tim. Personally, the response you got exceeded my expectations. The business of train companies is carrying people, not bikes. The fact that they allow bikes is an added extra. You don't want the guard to have any digression meaning that a policy would have to be formed, yet the policy on booking 24 hours in advance is not adequate for you. What would you rather have? Rigid policies or digression?

I would just put this down to bad luck and make sure you tick the right boxes next time. It is just one of those things.
EeeByGum - on 27 Mar 2013
In reply to Tim:

PS - your MP really doesn't give a flying f**k I am afraid. At least not about the fact you had a bit of bad service on a train.

Did you watch the recent series "The Railway - Keeping Britain On Track". Quite an eye opener and if watched, you will realise that your journey was one of millions last year. They are not going to rewrite the rule book for just you I am afraid.
Tim Chappell - on 27 Mar 2013
In reply to EeeByGum:

I'm not sure why you thought any of that was worth posting. But take another look. I'm not asking them to rewrite the rule book *for me*. I'm asking them to rewrite the rule book *for all cyclists*. And if you think cyclists don't matter and nobody cares about them, well, you may have a point. But perhaps it's worth trying to change these things instead of just sniping pointlessly from the sidelines at those who try? Just a thought.
Neil Williams - on 27 Mar 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:

As a cyclist (mainly for transport) and on-and-off rail commuter:-

1. I think the idea of reservations available up to departure is a sensible way of avoiding arguments and ensuring I can make sure I can get my bike on a given train, given that on most trains only a very limited number will fit (yes I know East Coast are an exception).

2. I don't like people loading 24"/26" wheel folding bikes on to commuter trains because they take up way too much space, e.g. space in which 3 passengers could be standing against the door. I would be entirely happy with a rule requiring folding bicycles on peak trains where full-size ones are not allowed to be Brompton-sized. I would also be very happy with a rule banning them from being unfolded until you have passed the ticket barriers, as in large crowds there they really get in the way.

So there's at least one opinion - as a cyclist - that disagrees with yours. Most people are not cyclists, so I would expect your opinion to be in a tiny minority of all passengers.

Neil
Tim Chappell - on 27 Mar 2013
In reply to Neil Williams:

You don't disagree with me unless you disagree with this:

"Where there is space on a train, the guard should allow the boarding of bikes to fill that space whether they are booked or unbooked."

And the point is not whether my suggestion is a tiny minority's viewpoint. It's whether the suggestion is a good one.
Neil Williams - on 27 Mar 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:

And to add quickly...

3. Most countries with better bike carriage facilities than us on trains charge for carrying bikes, sometimes a very substantial sum. Would you be willing to pay for a better service in this regard, if so how much?

I'd personally rather it remained free but restricted largely as it is now.

Neil
ads.ukclimbing.com
Neil Williams - on 27 Mar 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:

Yes I do disagree with that, as it is preparing for an argument further down the line when someone reserves, shows up and you have to get off, but then realise there isn't another train to your destination that day.

You might well gracefully agree and go and find yourself a hotel if that happened, but I would say the majority wouldn't. Then the reserver, the rightful owner of the bicycle space, is denied travel.

It is similar with seat reservations, but less so because even if you don't get your seat, you can still travel.

So, yes, I believe reservations should be mandatory, but be available right up to departure, by phone/Web if necessary for unstaffed stations, for cycle carriage on everything except very local commuter trains. A reasonable differentiator would be that if seat reservations are available on the train, bicycle reservations also are, and are mandatory. This is clearly visible from the timetable so is a nice easy differentiator.

Neil
EeeByGum - on 27 Mar 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:

Fair point. Apologies.
Tim Chappell - on 27 Mar 2013
In reply to EeeByGum:


Thank you!
Tim Chappell - on 27 Mar 2013
In reply to Neil Williams:


So suppose someone turns up with a bike. Maybe he hasn't been able to reserve because he's missed a previous train or plans have changed or his phone/ laptop is down or whatever. And there's room on the train and no reason not to let him stick it in the guards van. In fact the guard wants to do that. Except he can't, because there's a rule--let's call it the Neil Williams Rule-- which says he's not allowed to.

With all due respect: that's stupid.
Neil Williams - on 27 Mar 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:

"And there's room on the train"

How does the guard know there's room on the train, without having to make a telephone call to someone with access to the reservations system to check if there is a reservation further down the line, which you could do yourself instead?

If you want the reservations to be placed, they would need to have the same deadline of the day before as seat reservations do. I think being able to guarantee one on the day is better, personally.

If trains were like aircraft and didn't stop along the way, your proposal would be workable. As most trains stop in various places, it isn't.

Neil
Tim Chappell - on 27 Mar 2013
In reply to Neil Williams:
> (In reply to Tim Chappell)
>
> "And there's room on the train"
>
> How does the guard know there's room on the train,


I think you'll find guards have access to that information, via things called "computers".

This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.