Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

'Bizarre' Range of Rail Rules Frustrates Cycle Commuters

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

'Bizarre' Range of Rail Rules Frustrates Cycle Commuters

Article excerpt

CYCLISTS trying to take their bikes on trains face a "bewildering and bizarre" range of rules, an Evening Standard investigation has found.

Every train company operating in London has a different policy on the carrying of bikes. The majority of them forbid bicycles during peak hours, effectively banning cyclists from commuting to work.

Other companies, such as Eurostar, only allow bikes if they are carried as an item of luggage, while the Stansted Express only allows bikes if they are flat-packed in preparation for air travel.

By contrast, Gatwick Express passengers can carry all types of cycle at any time between Victoria and the airport.

One commuter said he found the only way he could take his bike on a train was to gift-wrap it. Angus Macfadyen said station staff had refused to let him on to the platform at London Bridge with his bike because of Southeastern's peak-time restrictions.

But when Mr Macfadyen, 34, asked the stationmaster if there were limits on carrying bulky parcels or luggage on the train, he was told there were none.

Faced with this paradox, the BBC cameraman went to the nearest WHSmith to buy wrapping and "disguised" his bike in plastic and birthday-themed paper. Station staff then let him carry the "present" - complete with protruding handlebars - on to the platform.

The confusing restrictions were condemned by MPs and cycling groups, who called for a single, national policy. Improvements for cyclists using the rail network are a key target of the Evening Standard's campaign for better cycle provision, safety and security in London.

Battersea MP Martin Linton said: "The rail industry needs a gear change on how it views cycles. Some train companies have bewildering and bizarre rules. The rail industry needs a useful national policy so that cyclists know when and where they can use trains." Mr Linton said passengers often had to book a cycle space well in advance with some train firms. Others made cyclists stand with their bikes. David Holladay, campaigns and policy officer at cycle campaign group CTC, said: Bike ban symbolises "The train companies are abdicating from management of the issue and denying a market. Overcrowding, station shut-downs and engineering work have made commuters flock to cycling.

It's a hard fact that commuters are guaranteed a faster journey by bike from the door of a train to the office." CTC is calling for train companies to provide at least four cycle spaces on existing trains and six spaces on all new or refurbished trains. It also wants all rail franchises to commit to providing better bike parking, hire and storage at stations and improve reservations symbolises breakdown and ticketing for cyclists. Charlie Lloyd, the London Cycling Campaign's cycling development officer, said: "A unified cycle policy needs to be incorporated into train companies' franchise agreements. …

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