Tyne & Wear Metro operator rejects calls to allow trial of letting bikes on trains

If it's not a folder, you can't take it on board - but campaigners say full-size bikes okay on similar trains in Germany

by Simon_MacMichael   February 12, 2012  

Tyne and Wear Metro

The local transit authority responsible for the Tyne & Wear Metro system has rebuffed calls for a trial of allowing bicycles other than folding ones to be taking on its trains that link Newcastle, Gatehead, Sunderland and North and South Tyneside.

According to the Evening Chronicle, local passenger transport executive Nexus says it is “not the right time” to let cyclists take their bikes onto services and on its stations.

The organisation has said that it wants to make integrated travel available potentially through enabling bikes to be hired at stations, but other than folding bicycles, they are not allowed on trains.

Even then, the Nexus website stipulates restrictions, saying: “Only folding cycles are allowed on Metro and must be fully folded whilst on Metro property.

“Folded cycles that have handlebars and pedals which stick out MUST be placed in a bag while on Metro. We do not specify the type of bag however it should be robust enough to prevent handlebars and pedals causing injury to other passengers.”

The Metro is one of only four light rail systems in operation in the UK, the others being London Underground and the Docklands Light Railway in London, plus the operated on behalf of Nexus by Arriva UK Trains, a subsidiary of German rail operator DB Regio.

The Tyne & Wear Metro is one of only four light rail systems in operation in the UK, the others being London Underground and the Docklands Light Railway in London, plus the Glasgow Subway.

Bikes are banned from the Glasgow Subway the latter and, other than folding bikes, the DLR, while the situation varies on London Underground.

Folding bikes are allowed anywhere on the network, while other bicycles can generally be taken during off-peak hours on above-ground sections, as well as those lines immediately below the surface – the District, Circle and Metropolitan lines.

Claire Prospert of Newcastle Cycling Campaign pointed out however that there seemed to be no issues the Metro operator’s parent company with carrying bikes in that company’s home market.

“We want to see a trial outside peak hours, involving a small number of Metro stations,” she explained. “We know that the Metro’s operator DB Regio runs light rail systems in Germany that carry bikes.”

While Newcastle Cycling Campaign says it has the support of Friends of the Earth, the Tyne and Wear Public Transport Users Group and some local councillors, Huw Lewis, head of communications for Nexus, said that while the ban on non-folding bikes would remain in force, the company was looking at how to make onward travel easier for bike riders.

“Cyclists are free to travel on Metro with folded bikes, and while there are good reasons why full-size bikes are not allowed on what is a very busy train system with deep underground stations, that's not the end of the story,” he insisted.

“We are about to trial new larger and more secure storage at two stations, while bidding in partnership with local councils and Sustrans for Government funding to pay for a much wider improvement of facilities.

“I don't think a limited trial allowing all bikes on part of Metro at certain times of day is a good idea right now, but it may come out of the work of the group,” Mr Lewis added.

“The last research we did with passengers showed a clear majority against the idea,” he added.

Last week, Transport Minister Norman Baker announced that his department was making £15 million available for cycling initiatives, of which £7 million would go to providing better cycle-rail integration, including improved facilities at stations.

For many cyclists, however, the immediate issue remains restrictions or outright bans on their being able to take their bikes on the train in the first place.
 

9 user comments

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To be fair i use the metro quite frequently to travel to Newcastle and there is basically no room to put a full size bike on the train if it's busy.

When it's not busy there is room but you cant legislate for it as, depending on the weather, time of year etc it changes.

Some of the stations have quite a bit of space and could quite easily be fitted with the secure units for putting your bike in but as usual the company will probably charge the earth for it's use.

There are no stupid questions, just stupid people.

stumps's picture

posted by stumps [2841 posts]
12th February 2012 - 10:32

6 Likes

Years ago, me and a friend took our MTBs on at South Shields, late at night, and as the driver walked down the metro to change direction, he asked us to leave the train because we had our bikes... so we had to cycle home in the dark and with no lights. Grrr. No common sense.

posted by humpyg [15 posts]
12th February 2012 - 11:06

5 Likes

humpyg wrote:
Years ago, me and a friend took our MTBs on at South Shields, late at night, and as the driver walked down the metro to change direction, he asked us to leave the train because we had our bikes... so we had to cycle home in the dark and with no lights. Grrr. No common sense.

Yep, the drivers are a bunch of "jobs worths". Even if the train is empty they gob off, when in reality there is no problem. Angry

There are no stupid questions, just stupid people.

stumps's picture

posted by stumps [2841 posts]
12th February 2012 - 12:20

7 Likes

...what..not even bikes with Mavic wheels which carry the same 'M' logo as the metro?
(sorry, not a serious point but couldn't resist)

Callybike

posted by cliveg1 [31 posts]
13th February 2012 - 9:37

4 Likes

Rail operators within the uk have no interest in any income to be made from cycle carriage, it is to some extent due to the fragmentation into private ownership of public transport in this country, the bottom line being profit rather than service. Many leisure cyclists who live in urban areas of tyneside would I am sure welcome the ability on a sunday morning to use the metro from an above ground to an above ground station to access the countryside, in particular rural Northumbria. However as has been mentioned the rolling stock is currently not suitable being mostly full of seating, removing some seats to provide open space for buggies wheelchairs and bikes, areas which could also be used by straphangers would be asking too much I fear. Sad

onward ever onward

bikecellar's picture

posted by bikecellar [228 posts]
13th February 2012 - 9:44

7 Likes

Folded cycles that have handlebars and pedals which stick out MUST be placed in a bag while on Metro

Really? Do they inspect everyone's luggage to make sure there's nothing sticking out? Are folded buggies required to be put in a bag on the train? Are umbrellas sheathed for safety?

I suspect not.

posted by HKCambridge [172 posts]
13th February 2012 - 10:53

5 Likes

There is certainly space on the carriages during certain times of some days but how would you define when these times were in any reliable way? On a weekend match day the metro can be as jammed as weekday rush hour so you’d have to somehow work around the premier league timetable.
The main problem I can see is policing it, the Metro is short staffed as it is and you could imagine it being abused so although it’s a shame, I can see why Nexus are reluctant to try it.

@Stumpy – some stations do have bike lockers, there are a grand total of 4 at my local station (West Monkseaton)
http://www.nexus.org.uk/metro/guide-metro/Cycles

Related to this, a year or so ago I was on the Metro when a lad tried to sneak on to the back carriage with his BMX. The driver must have seen it on camera and said over the PA, “Hoy! No bikes on the train. Off you get.” The lad in question looked around thinking maybe it was someone else so the driver came back on “Honestly son, you’re that conspicuous you might as well have been trying to sneak an elephant on. Off” This got a few laughs then as the train pulled away with kid back on the station he came on again “If there are any passengers with elephants on board, note they are prohibited from using the metro so please remove them at the next stop. Thank you.”

So some of them have a sense of humour at least.

joemmo's picture

posted by joemmo [903 posts]
13th February 2012 - 11:53

8 Likes

On the Coast to Coast route, I recall the final place to have your card stamped was Tynemouth Metro Station ...

posted by John G [53 posts]
13th February 2012 - 13:21

6 Likes

joemmo: They could have a policy that says carriage is at the discretion of the train staff.

That's what happens on the Northern Rail line I use (if you're not in the way, we'll carry you, basically). I'm overwintering on the Brompton at the moment, but it wasn't a problem last year, or the years before. Cyclists can play their part by stowing the bikes sensibly (topping & tailing them in the bike space, basically).

It's not rocket science, and as the local cycling campaign points out, other countries are able to do it.

--
"Tant que je respire, j'attaque!"

John_the_Monkey's picture

posted by John_the_Monkey [423 posts]
15th February 2012 - 14:07

5 Likes