Share your bikes-on-trains photos and win a prize in the National Cycle Rail Awards Photography Competition

You might not think it's easy getting a bike on a train, but ATOC want to celebrate it

by Sarah Barth   June 1, 2013  

Hire Bikes at Reading Railway Station © Simon MacMichael.jpg

Those who attempt to take a bike on a train tend to find it a stressful experience, but the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) is keen to celebrate it, with a competiton to find the best photo of a bike on or around a train.

The National Cycle-Rail Awards Photography Competition, sponsored by Madison, gives two snappers the chance to win a Go-Pro camera simply by sending in their pics of cycling by train.

According to the rules:

This category is open to individuals and organisations. We are looking for the best photographic imagery that captures the essence of the Cycle-Rail journey and promotes it as a form of transport. Images can be factual, documentary, humorous or rely on the aesthetic beauty of the imagery or the narrative they portray. There will be two prizes of a GoPro Helmet Cam for the two best photographs as chosen by the judging panel.

The Cycle Rail awards recognise progress made by the rail industry and associated organisations towards encouraging the integrated use of bikes and train travel.

Categories include Best Customer Service, Station of the Year, London Cycle Parking Award and Cycle Security Award - meaning that the train companies and facilities that are making real progress can be understood and perhaps adopted more widely.

Conrad Haigh, ATOC’s Head of Integrated Transport, said: “ATOC, its members and their industry partners are committed to increasing and improving cycle access to the railways. Thanks to efforts and money invested over last few years, many passengers are now benefitting from some first class cycling facilities at stations.

“With more than £25m of schemes underway at over 315 major stations, I expect there to be some very interesting entries and stiff competition this year. Stations such as St Albans City – which recently boosted its number of cycle spaces to over 1,150, more than any other station in the  country – are sure to be in the running.

“We want to hear from individual passengers as well as organisations, to nominate any stand-out examples and help us improve the cycle-rail experience for everyone.”

Brompton Dock, who won the Innovation of the Year category, started out with just a couple of places where commuters could hire a folding bike that they could take with them on their onward journey and carry easily on the train. They now have 15 locations with another 6 coming soon. And it's good for crowded cities - with a Brompton dock you can fit 40 bikes into one car park space.

A spokeswoman said: “We were delighted to win the National Cycle-Rail Award for Innovation last year. As a relatively new company it is great to get some recognition for the design of your product and winning the award for innovation meant a lot to us.

"We know that our product is truly unique; we are the only provider of a fully automated cycle hire scheme for folding bicycles. Winning the award has added credibility to our product; this has been useful when approaching potential partners as it shows ATOC’s confidence in, and support for our service.”

The 2013 awards will be supporting the charity Railway Children by asking for voluntary donations when entering awards and through a charity raffle at the awards ceremony itself.

So grab your bike and head to the railway station - you just might see a wonderful new part of the country on two wheels.

To enter the competiton click here.

18 user comments

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Well, I'm NOT allowed to take my bike on a train from Aberdeen station, that's my nearest station....so I'm out Crying

Gkam84's picture

posted by Gkam84 [8793 posts]
1st June 2013 - 11:39

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If you can get a bike on a train you should win more than a go pro camera. I work in the rail industry and I can tell you trying to get booking for Bikes is like trying to find the goldern fleece. Most rail companies only allow two cycles per train, so if you want to take your bikes on the train as a family, well, lets just say, it will be difficult.

posted by kobacom [82 posts]
1st June 2013 - 13:34

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Quote:
We are looking for the best photographic imagery that captures the essence of the Cycle-Rail journey

I'll take a photo of me without my bike on the train then!

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posted by CraigS [135 posts]
1st June 2013 - 14:38

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CraigS wrote:
Quote:
We are looking for the best photographic imagery that captures the essence of the Cycle-Rail journey

I'll take a photo of me without my bike on the train then!

Exactly, There is no-where in Scotland I can take my bike on the train, whether folded up, In a box/case....I've been told NO.

So the only photo of me on a train, would be without a bike, while the bike gets packed and sent by courier to where I am heading....

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posted by Gkam84 [8793 posts]
1st June 2013 - 17:01

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i need to take my bike into london next week, despite the fact the train I normally get at 7:30 would have room, because of the restrictions I have to get a train at 6:45 instead.
ace.

posted by chrisb87 [65 posts]
1st June 2013 - 23:39

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Pi** taking at it's most cynical

Sudor

posted by Sudor [179 posts]
2nd June 2013 - 7:30

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I know I'm in the minority here, but I just came back from taking my bike to Scotland and I thought the rail service was fine. As much as I dislike the price gougers, at least they do provide a service for bikes these days.

There wasn't a huge amount of space for more than three bikes, so it's not yet continental standards, but considering that a while ago you couldn't do it at all, I think it's not a bad service.

posted by Not KOM [79 posts]
2nd June 2013 - 8:27

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Am I the only one who's had quite experiences of taking bikes on trains? Getting to London is normally ok. Made Cardiff to Brighton with no issues (and two changes) a few months ago, and for a while did Cardiff to Bristol quite regularly. It is pretty much the ultimate integrated transport system.

As for booking - book online with East Coast and you can book your bike space at the same time for any companies services.

posted by b3nharris [46 posts]
2nd June 2013 - 8:33

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Took a motorbike on the train from Crewe to Leicester and back in 1974 with no problems...how times have changed!

posted by batch [60 posts]
2nd June 2013 - 9:49

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Not KOM wrote:
I know I'm in the minority here, but I just came back from taking my bike to Scotland and I thought the rail service was fine. As much as I dislike the price gougers, at least they do provide a service for bikes these days.

There wasn't a huge amount of space for more than three bikes, so it's not yet continental standards, but considering that a while ago you couldn't do it at all, I think it's not a bad service.

Where about in Scotland? I used to take my upright on trains every weekend when I was younger, going back 13 years ago. There was no problem at all.

The service up here has gotten WORSE over that time period rather than better. That's for sure.

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posted by Gkam84 [8793 posts]
2nd June 2013 - 13:38

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I was traveling Sheffield to Leuchars, so it's a direct Cross Country service via Edinburgh at the start of May . I came back at the end of May. I didn't need to pay for the extra ticket, but I did need to book in advance and get a ticket for my bike.

As for service 13 years ago, I don't really know, sorry. This is the first time I've tried to take my bike on the train in the UK, and it seemed okay to me. But definitely not three bike spaces for every carriage, like they have in Switzerland. That truly is fantastic service.

I always assumed in the past that you just couldn't do it.

posted by Not KOM [79 posts]
2nd June 2013 - 15:02

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There clearly is supreme ignorance on the part of Gkam84 and CraigS - perhaps they never attempt to travel by train? . Maybe some of those who participated in POP2 on 19th May took pictures of their journeys home by train could prove to them that there are few problems in getting bikes aboard trains in Scotland (my personal 'counted off' record was 37 on a 3 coach train, for a cycle route opening event). For POP1 we had a report of 36 bikes on one 4-coach train back to Glasgow, and I (as a pretty regular traveller by train) do spot counts whenever I can en route. POP2 seemed to work brilliantly - staff ensured every train left Edinburgh with as many of the waiting cyclists on board as could be fitted in, and the crowd cleared well before 19.00.

Typically for an off-peak service going to a popular cycling destination, around 10% of the passengers are travelling with bikes. The 14.15 'boat train' for Arran typically has summer loadings to fill 50% of the seated capacity, and 10% of the passengers have cycles, and we've had up to 18 bikes on one of those services - no problems at all, with the old trains, and unlikely to be with the new ones either.

8 bikes does seem to be about the limit for a 2-bike provision on a train, and the C2C cycle route saw Northern adding an extra coach to some services to accommodate the bikes more comfortably with up to 8 bikes going on to the usual 70-seat train. Reverse-flow commuters in Bristol did some monitoring of their 2 regular morning trains when making the case for appropriate choice of the replacement trains. Their 70-seat train regularly got 7 cycles and the 102 seat one hit a peak of 14 bikes - for roughly 40% of the passengers.

Across most of the TOC's through working with the managers AND the front line staff, we've generally achieved some success, but not always the perfect product first time. Remember it to the SF Bicycle Coalition 41 years to get unrestricted access to BART trains. We've just started talking to TfL about DLR and some mainstream bus and coach operators about more formal arrangements for cycle carriage.

I do however agree with kobacom. On long distance trains, the formal provision is inadequate for the peak demand, with very little flexibility, largely the fault of DfT for insisting on rigid layouts of fixed seating which runs around outside the peak times carrying fresh air, but almost impossible to use for carrying cycles. To attempt to manage this limited space the TOC's who pay for a seat reservation service have adapted this to provide a way to reserve cycle spaces. So that is only about half of the train operators offer a facility to reserve a bike space, using a bodged solution, which requires 2 'seat' reservations. The ticketing system 'prohibits' the issue of 2 seat reservations for one ticket and so you need to know how to by-pass the system to book a bike space (still following this?). Of course this means training the staff to do this (not all staff are trains to do this), and there is no financial reward for issue of a free bike reservation, so the independent ticket sellers like Trainline won't do bike reservations (as they don't get any commission paid for it).

The other great issue is that the ticketing and timetable systems are not well integrated for various historic issues, and the last time a major overhaul was undertaken in December 2004 the railway on-line sales arrangements fell apart for over 6 months as the industry struggled to repair the damage. To deliver a 'good fit' cycle booking service on its own would never get agreement, to deliver it whan the system is next upgraded - maybe - but it will need to be paid for by someone, and as the current system is just about delivering, it is unlikely anyone would want to take the risk or find the funding.

Other solutions? Well, one might be to issue specific bicycle tickets, with or without a charge, but that opens another can of worms.

Fundamentally there is a need for the TOC's to understand the variety of markets for combining cycling with rail travel. Some, like commuters, travelling when trains are filled with passengers will have a clear price point/value for delivering the facility to ride a bike to and from their train and transferring between the modes with minimal delay. This could mean
1) fast access and retrieval of bikes from a secure bike park (Cyclepoint and other systems)
2) fast access and return of a bike hired to travel out and back (Bike'n'Go - Abellio now rolling out to nearly 60 locations)
3) a folding bike - owned, or hired when required for a week of commuting or a specific journey (Brompton Dock)

Other markets may be for leisure cycling, where a very different sort of bike hire is appropriate - Abellio are very clear that Bike'n'Go is primarily hiring bikes for a day to pre-registered users for general purpose cycling. Scotrail has worked with a chain of bike hire operators to offer point to point cycling an long distance cycle routes.

Elsewhere Road CC carries the news of the DLR trial of cycle carriage, and in the discussions we learned from staff who had researched the position elsewhere, that one TOC actually added a carriage to trains serving a popular cycle route corridor to cope with the demand for cycle space.

Whilst there may be a bit of biting the lip there is a lot more to be gained from getting 'inside the tent' than ranting outside about claims which I think are vastly exaggerated - perhaps it is the way that those who claim they experience problems go about getting bikes on board which provides the self fulfilling result of a refusal.

Having fitted 8 bikes on a 70-seat single carriage (with 50 passengers aboard) and another 8 bikes in to the 2-bike (official) space on a 140-seat train with 76 passengers aboard, after a polite and swift negotiation with the guard, based on the fact that it was only for a couple of stops and we would keep (well actually we had kept) the gangway clear, and loaded the bikes in seconds in a stack 2-high between floor and ceiling - secured with straps and bungees.

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

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posted by A V Lowe [481 posts]
2nd June 2013 - 18:28

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Tony the OYBikes were pulled from Reading Station at least 3 years ago - havn't you got something more up to date like Cyclepoint in Leeds/Norwich &c, Merseyrail Bike Hire at Southport or Brompton Docks at various stations (often with a train in the background)

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

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posted by A V Lowe [481 posts]
2nd June 2013 - 18:34

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A V Lowe wrote:
There clearly is supreme ignorance on the part of Gkam84 and CraigS - perhaps they never attempt to travel by train?

Did you read my opening comment. I am NOT allowed to take my bike on the trains out of Aberdeen station.

I've been in contact with Scotrail and East Coast.

I have a recumbent trike because of illness. I was travelling to London and onwards in March, I was told, no matter how it was packed or folded. I could not travel with it. The trike folds up and takes up less room that an upright road bike.

Then again I got in contact because I was going to be attending Pop2, again, I was told NO....

If I was in a wheelchair, I bet they would be ok with me using it. So why not my bike?? It takes up the same amount of room....

Gkam84's picture

posted by Gkam84 [8793 posts]
2nd June 2013 - 20:50

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Gkam84 wrote:
A V Lowe wrote:
There clearly is supreme ignorance on the part of Gkam84 and CraigS - perhaps they never attempt to travel by train?

Did you read my opening comment. I am NOT allowed to take my bike on the trains out of Aberdeen station.

I've been in contact with Scotrail and East Coast.

I have a recumbent trike because of illness. I was travelling to London and onwards in March, I was told, no matter how it was packed or folded. I could not travel with it. The trike folds up and takes up less room that an upright road bike.

Then again I got in contact because I was going to be attending Pop2, again, I was told NO....

If I was in a wheelchair, I bet they would be ok with me using it. So why not my bike?? It takes up the same amount of room....

Perhaps if you had correctly described your machine as a recumbent trike, rather than a bike, it would have caused less confusion on this thread. I have had no trouble getting my bike on trains at Glasgow or Fort William.

posted by alun [44 posts]
2nd June 2013 - 21:25

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Sadly there seems to be little parity or joined up thinking with Scot Rail. On one occasion I was told that I could book my bike between Stranraer and Ayr. After that I was on my own to complete my trip to Glasgow and warned that the conductor could put me off on that stage if he thought I was a risk. On another occasion I couldn't book between Ayr and Stranraer as the route was too busy and they only had two coaches running. I ended up changing all my schedules as a result. I have also been advised that if there is issues with the line and they need to transfer passengers to coaches I will not be able to take my bike!

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posted by giff77 [1045 posts]
2nd June 2013 - 22:34

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The competition rules state you have to give away your copyright to them, which is taking the p*ss.

I'm a human being, God damn it! My life has value. I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore.

posted by Carl [134 posts]
2nd June 2013 - 23:14

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Gkam84 wrote:
A V Lowe wrote:
There clearly is supreme ignorance on the part of Gkam84 and CraigS - perhaps they never attempt to travel by train?

Did you read my opening comment. I am NOT allowed to take my bike on the trains out of Aberdeen station.

I've been in contact with Scotrail and East Coast.

I have a recumbent trike because of illness. I was travelling to London and onwards in March, I was told, no matter how it was packed or folded. I could not travel with it. The trike folds up and takes up less room that an upright road bike.

Then again I got in contact because I was going to be attending Pop2, again, I was told NO....

If I was in a wheelchair, I bet they would be ok with me using it. So why not my bike?? It takes up the same amount of room....

Presumably you can get a note from your GP to the effect that your trike (and in the original post you simply said bike) is effectively a Class 1 Invalid Carriage - which it fully meets the spec for, and if it has specific adaptation for your needs you may even be able to reclaim 20% VAT. If you want to play that card then they are failing to comply with the RVAR and the newer PRM ITS in making it impossible to travel with your mobility aid.

I've taken a Roberts 20" wheel trike with child seats on Scotrail trains without problems, and generally front line staff work well to accommodate cycles of all types and sizes on their trains. Is it Greenspeed or Trice folder? or the equally impressive Haase? If it does fold down it may be less confrontational to roll up to the train with the trike on a luggage trolley. I did this for years with the bike (wheels off) wrapped up in a groundsheet and never got charged the £3 fee (remember that £3 reservations period?)

The 'difficult' train will be a Voyager. The HST should be OK assembled, and the Class 170 can easily manage a trike. The detail is to get the staff to accept it. Get me a bit more detail and lets see how this can get shaped up.

Meantime you may be aware that Stagecoach Bluebird operates coaches on many routes, and these will carry cycles if space permits, and they made a big promotion of the X7 that goes down the coast to Dundee. This might involve a visit to the bus station and some informal chatting with the guys who manage the Bluebird services using coaches. Looks as if we could get you & trike to Perth or Dundee if it fits OK in the hold (and onward with other coach or train services).

Do you drive? or is the trike a really important part of your independent transport regime? You might want to check out Caroline (Doesn't Sweat Much for a Fat Lass) and also drop a note to the MSP's who support Cycling in Scotland.

You might know how to contact me direct but if you know CTC folk in Aberdeen area (Mark H etc) they'll put you in touch.

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

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posted by A V Lowe [481 posts]
23rd July 2013 - 19:36

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