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No outright ban, but no extra provision for bicycles either

Local rail operators in Yorkshire are telling people who plan to use their trains to watch the Tour de France in July to leave their bikes at home. The news coincided with plans being announced this week of how they will deal with the influx of visitors to the region to attend the race.

Last month, the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) announced details of the carriage of bicycles on long-distance services around the weekend of the Grand Depart on Saturday 5 July, saying that people without a reservation for their bike would be unlikely to be able to board the train they wanted.

Now, local operators including Northern Rail and Grand Central have confirmed that no reservations can be made for bikes on their services, reports the Yorkshire Evening Post.

The newspaper says that none of the companies involved plan to provide additional carriages for bicycles, and that only two bikes are allowed on Northern Rail’s services. As a result, fans of the race travelling by train are being urged not to bring a bike with them.

ATOC said that its members had decided not to ban bicycles outright from Friday 4 July to Sunday 6 July, but said that people wanting to take their bike with them should travel early and expect a delay in boarding a train without a reservation.

In a statement, it said: “It is normal practice under franchise arrangements agreed with the Department for Transport to suspend cycle carriage on trains at times of expected exceptional passenger congestion, particularly for large sporting events.

“It is in recognition of the importance of cycle-rail passengers and of the nature of the Tour de France that train operating companies have chosen to maintain carriage during the event.”

However, First TransPennine Express has told travellers that “the Tour de France is a spectator event, and cycle carriage is not advised due to the busy nature of the event, stations and services.”

East Midlands Trains, East Coast and especially Northern Rail, which will be carrying most of the expected increase in passenger numbers, are among companies that will be providing extra services and carriages during the weekend.

Northern Rail’s service delivery director, Alan Chaplin, said: “It’s an honour for us, as well as the rest of the industry, to be part of this year’s Tour de France.

“Our services will provide an important lifeline throughout the weekend, connecting many spectators to viewpoints along the route, and we have sought to provide as much additional capacity as we can.

“We’ve been planning with our industry partners since last year on how to make Yorkshire’s Grand Depart an experience to remember for spectators, our people and most importantly, showcase a railway the north can be proud of.”

Network Rail, meanwhile, has suspended engineering works in the area for the weekend in question.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.