Bike bag on the train

by Hollisharri   August 2, 2013  

I'm doing the RideLondon 100 this weekend (hopefully).

I booked a train from Newcastle to King's Cross and bought a bike bag. According to the operator (East Coast)the maximum size bag I can carry is 90x70x30. My bag is 120x72x35.

I was wondering if any of you have taken an oversized bike bag onto an east coast train before and if they had to do anything special?

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When I was trying to book my trike onto Scotrail, Aberdeen to London, I was told the dimensions were 120x70x40

So I think you should be ok, just make sure you have booked your bike onto the train, because EVERYONE will be going by train, if you haven't booked it onto the train, there is every chance it wont get on.

They only have limited space to take bikes, once its book, you've no chance

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posted by Gkam84 [8699 posts]
2nd August 2013 - 0:30

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Don't think you need a bag at all. The trains have space for bikes, you just have to book it. I would suggest go to the station on Friday or Saturday with yout ticket and book the space for the bike.

"Just as every cop is a criminal, and all the sinners saints".

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posted by LondonCalling [146 posts]
2nd August 2013 - 0:33

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You are correct, Bike's don't need to be in a back, the same are clothes don't need a suitcase to go on holiday. But it does make life alot easier to have it all in one bag Wink

Also, I wouldn't wait until the weekend, get on the phone first thing in the morning 0845 601 5929, some trains don't have room for bikes at all. Those that do, WILL be booked up early because of the size of the event. So you need to have it booked early, I would even suggest, you may be too late to get a place for your bike, whether in a bag or not Surprise

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posted by Gkam84 [8699 posts]
2nd August 2013 - 0:51

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Well I did ring them a couple of weeks ago and asked to book a slot. They were all gone. I asked if I could take the bike in a bag instead on the same train and the guy on the phone said yeah no problem. I have the horrible feeling he was just blindly agreeing with me though.

The thing is, my bag exceeds the max dimensions. Now the site says they can refuse my luggage on the passenger car but that I might be able to pay an oversize luggage fee if they have an issue with it. I think there's an implication I can put it in the guard's carriage or something. I'm going to ring tomorrow to check.

This might turn into an expensive trip for me. I was originally planning on taking the bag on the tube but it's much bigger than I was expecting. I'll probably have to take a taxi from king's cross to stratford. Looks to be at least £30.

posted by Hollisharri [37 posts]
2nd August 2013 - 1:21

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or you could cycle... sorry, good luck with your ride, I hope you manage to get to the start line with your sanity in check... big grins throughout the ride, enjoy.

posted by billyman [122 posts]
2nd August 2013 - 7:21

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Kings Cross to Stratford takes less than 30 minutes on a bike - a pretty direct route too Pentonville Road, City Road, Old Street, Great Eastern Street, Commercial Street, and CS2 down the A12, or a more pleasant way is to get in to Victoria Park via Old Street - Bethnal Green Road.

If you are uncertain of the route (although turn East and start pedalling is pretty basic really) you can take a bike on the subsurface underground at St Pancras and take the H&C train to Barking, get off at West Ham and ride up West ham Lane to Stratford (or if you are really lazy get DLR (now running bike carriage trial) or Jubilee Line train to Stratford Regional Station.

47 years of breaking bikes and still they offer me a 10 year frame warranty!

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posted by A V Lowe [471 posts]
2nd August 2013 - 7:53

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There are official dimensions, and official bike capacity and what happens in practice. Sadly the UK rail industry, in the broader sense, is largely clueless about the markets for cycle connected travel (in all the possible combinations) and the actual picture of what is happening now.

I urge anyone making regular journeys by rail, especially commuting journeys, to do regular bike & passenger counts. Around the world, the sort of figures I'm seeing for bike on bus/tram/train suggest a figure of 3-4% of passengers as a settled demand for taking a bike with the passenger, but a higher figure for combining bike journeys with the rail &c journeys. I'd postulate, again from observation, that this figure is around 10%, as on many commuter journeys, in London, I'm 'spotting subtle clues that passengers have used or will use a bike at some point on their journey (bike luggage, pump, helmet, bike jacket etc) or a folding bike counted 10 in last 4 coaches of 12 coach train with around 200 passengers on board.

But to return and discuss your issue. Techincally the carrier may specify a size and quantity for luggage, but if you carry it with or without a luggage trolley, and with no great hiatus on to the train, and it fits without blocking a gangway or falling off the luggage stack, very few rail operators make a fuss. Exceptions can be from long distance rail operators where major holiday traffic, and almost every passenger pushing their luck, forces a clamp-down (eg on trains at weekends, and to major holiday destinations). Reservations and less flexible ways of operating tend to come in when the train design requires staff to unlock a special area of the train to carry bikes, again the regular traveller will have developed strategies to deal with this, and know the trains - for example the East Coast electric trains have a space in the toilet-end door vestibule with a perch seat which is perfectly sized to take a bagged sports bike (or two). The same applies to long distance coach services, where both major operators (Megabus and National Express) carry bikes packed (sensibly) in bags. I've seen passengers with bags really taking the **** one guy with the Asian-style polypropylene woven 'suitcases' (Dimpa bags) filling the bike space with 4 of them jammed full plus a suitcase plus a heavy coast plus a briefcase. (The conditions of carriage permit the rail operators to charge up to half the standard fare for each item of excess baggage - should they actually want to enforce this)

Getting bikes on & off trains also needs to get the cycle users to wake up a bit and work together. You won't be popular if you leave luggage on the bikes and make it difficult to even fit in the officially permitted number, or stack up the bikes so there is a huge delay at the station whilst the bike on the bottom is extracted.

I've also replied to your concern over getting to Stratford from Kings Cross. It took me less than 30 minutes to get to Canary Wharf from Kings Cross on the Brompton, and about 30 to do Stratford via CS2, but plenty of trains from Kings Cross to West Ham or Camden Road to Stratford. Riding 100 miles and a problem with doing 6 -7 miles to the start?

47 years of breaking bikes and still they offer me a 10 year frame warranty!

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posted by A V Lowe [471 posts]
2nd August 2013 - 8:01

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I'll look into storing it in the vestibule. Gonna ring them in a bit. I dunno what the standard fare is but I'm guessing it's huge so I'm hoping to avoid paying the baggage fee.

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Rang them and they said they'd take the luggage but I will get charged. Again the agent on the phone didn't seem 100% reliable but I found their FAQ on the website stating:

You may bring up to three pieces of luggage – two larger items (90x70x30 cm) and one piece of hand luggage. Please note over-sized and extra luggage may be placed in the guards van and subject to a £5 charge per item. You will need to able to handle your own luggage unless you have booked assistance. For more information please visit our baggage and pets page.

A £5 baggage fee I can definitely cope with!

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I can appreciate the comment regarding how easy the 6 miles to my hotel might be by bike. It's slightly more difficult when taking into consideration the need to reassemble a road bike in King's Cross station and then having to lug a huge bike bag which weighs more than the bike itself and doesn't fold. Tongue

posted by Hollisharri [37 posts]
2nd August 2013 - 8:49

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