South West trains reverse bike ban after only three days

"Green travel is important", it seems, especially after some really bad publicity...

by Dave Atkinson   July 11, 2012  

Bikes at Paddington station (© Rod Alladay)

You can, you can't... you can. South West Trains have reversed their ban on bikes over the Olympic period, meaning that you can proceed as normal on their services. Well, almost.

In the three days since their blanket ban was announced the operating company has clearly been hurt by the bad publicity its draconian action prompted. So they've gone back to the drawing board and come up with a new set of rules for the Olympics. Which are bascially the rules they use normally, with one exception.

The new statement from South West Trains is now on the CTC website, and reads as follows:

"Green travel is important to us and we have a good track record for investing in facilities for cyclists using our network. However, we operate one of the busiest rail networks in Europe and space for cycles on our trains is limited. As a result, at peak times and on certain services we already have to restrict the carriage of non-folding bikes. This is a standard policy all year round. However, we welcome fully folded bikes on our trains at any time.

"Clearly, during the Olympics and Paralympics games our train services are going to be even busier. We will be carrying significant numbers of extra passengers on top of our normal levels of daily customers. We have considered carefully the position regarding cycles over the period of London 2012, including listening to feedback from our customers and our staff. Following that review, we have decided that our policy for non-folding and folding bicycles will remain unchanged throughout the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

"The only exception will be on 28 and 29 July, when we will be unable to carry bicycles on our services via Epsom.  This is also the case with other train operators and will ensure we can carry the maximum number of passengers to see the cycle race at Box Hill."

So then, as you were. Except if you want to take your bike to the Olympic Road Race, in which case you'll have to cycle from a bit further away from Dorking station. First Great Western won't let you take your bike on their Surrey services on that weekend either. The CTC is suggesting that taking bikes unneccessarily on what are likely to be overcrowded services is probably a bad idea, and we'd echo that, but we welcome the lifting of South West's blanket ban that would have applied even to local services nowhere near any of the Olympic sites.

4 user comments

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Just run more f***ing trains.

posted by nod [61 posts]
12th July 2012 - 7:29

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Seems fair enough to me. Bikes take up a lot of space on trains. Has nobody else ever felt frustrated at being squashed into a corner because somebody's brought their bike onto the train, taking up the space of (at least) two standing people? I used to live in London and found this a constant frustration when I commuted by train to work (via South West trains, incidentally).

OK, so ideally there would be more trains - but that's not likely to happen soon. In the meantime, surely it would be best if we could all show some courtesy by not taking up the space of three or four people.

Better yet - if it's just a short journey, forget the train and use your bike. More pressing, bike/train-wise is the complexity and difficulty of taking your bicycle on long-distance and inter-city train journeys.

Ghedebrav's picture

posted by Ghedebrav [1101 posts]
12th July 2012 - 7:58

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It doesn't seem to be about the space, they didn't try to ban large suitcases.

My partner and I have taken a dissembled office table on the Underground on a route where bicycles are not allowed, the station staff didn't even bat an eyelid. I wheel my bicycle up to the gates and am told to fold and carry it because there are 5 minutes of "peak time" left (this attitude does vary a lot between stations and staff).

Bike bans are a rather lazy solution to one symptom of a bigger problem: underinvestment in the rail network.

posted by Henz [41 posts]
12th July 2012 - 22:20

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Henz - you're spot on. The main problem is a design one they just don't consider luggage.

I can think of only three ToCs that have "guards vans", and that's because they are part of the engine carriage - Virgin, East Coast and FGW. Only FGW make announcements at Paddington and Plymouth (possibly other stations too) that they can store your large luggage in their guard's van until your destination (which I think was done in the past anyway). When it comes to luggage space on the trains Virgin are the worst, they have virtually no luggage space in their carriages

You would be amazed at the amount of luggage that a single passenger is allowed to take "Customers may take up to three items of personal luggage free of charge, this includes two large items (such as suitcases or rucksacks) and one item of smaller hand luggage (such as a briefcase)" - http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/passenger_services/luggage_animals.html

It is time that our trains copied Eurostar and had luggage spaces in each carriage big enough to fit a bike in a bike box, not a piddly little space at each end of the carriage.

If cycling is indeed a sport of self-abuse why aren't more cyclists sectioned under the mental health act?

posted by hairyairey [292 posts]
19th July 2012 - 8:14

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