Greater Anglia wins at 2013 Cycle-Rail Awards despite planning bike ban extension

More Britons combining cycle and rail journeys than ever before

by Simon_MacMichael   November 21, 2013  

Catherine Murphy ' Waiting at the Station'

Greater Anglia came away from Tuesday evening’s Cycle-Rail Awards with wins in three categories following an awards ceremony held at the Palace of Westminster and attended by Transport Minister, Stephen Hammond despite the fact the company may extend its ban on carrying non-folding bikes during rush hour to all services.

Now in their ninth year since the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) assumed responsibility for their organisation – under previous guises, the awards actually date back to 1997 – they come after a year in which record numbers of travellers chose to combine bicycles and trains for their journeys.

According to organisers, some 39 million cycle-rail journeys are now made annually, reflecting an increase of 40 per cent since 2009. Further growth is expected through £25 million of investment in bike-friendly initiatives across the rail network, including growing the number of cycle parking spaces to 70,000 as well as providing 30 cycle hubs.

Among this year’s awards winners are:

Greater Anglia, which now has cycling facilities at 88% of its stations including  more than 7,000 cycle parking spaces.

Merseyrail, whose pioneering Bike & Go scheme has been rolled out beyond the operator’s routes and is now available at more than 50 stations in the North West, Anglia and South East.

First Capital Connect, whose joint security initiative with the British Transport Police led to a dramatic fall in cycle crime at stations. The scheme included offering free locks and security etching to cyclists, and dedicated cycle wardens.

South West Trains, whose efforts have resulted in a significant increase in cycling and are now responsible for around 25% of Britain’s cycle-rail access.

Michael Roberts, ATOC Chief Executive and Director General of the Rail Delivery Group, commented: “This year saw the launch of the government’s door to door strategy, and the rail industry is committed to playing a key part in delivering that vision.

“We have made great strides in not only providing more and better cycling facilities at stations, but also in encouraging greater numbers of passengers to combine cycle and rail travel.

“We congratulate all of the winners on their innovative work.”

Mr Hammond added: “Used in combination, bike and rail offers one of the most environmentally friendly forms of travel so it is important to give people the choice to travel this way.

“That’s why working together with the train companies, Network Rail and TfL we’re investing more than £25 million to improve cycle facilities at around 350 stations across the network.”

The fact it was Greater Anglia that came away with more awards than any other company on the night may however raise eyebrows among some cyclists who use its trains.

As we reported in October, while it is investing in bike parking and cycle hubs, its draft cycling strategy, which was open for consultation until 1 November, suggests that the company is planning to extend a ban on non-folding bikes on rush hour trains to other times of the day too.

The draft policy says: “We will keep these restrictions under review, but as the use of our services continues to grow, we believe that we and future franchisees will have to consider a widening of the restrictions to cover other routes and services.”

It’s worth noting, however, that the Greater Anglia franchise is operated by Abellio – which is the international business of Dutch state railway operator, Nederlandse Spoorwegen.

Similar restrictions exist in the Netherlands although railway cycle parking there is plentiful, something the company is bringing to the UK through the development of cycle hubs at stations such as Leeds and Chelmsford, both already open, and Cambridge.

Moreover, as road.cc user AV Lowe pointed out in a comment to that article, often the problem is that current rolling stock itself is often not ideal for carrying bikes.

Operators have to comply with Department for Transport (DfT) requirements for fixed seating and balance that against their own desire to provide access for wheelchairs, bicycles and pushchairs as well as providing space for safety equipment and services such as buffet cars on some trains.

That means that operators’ hands are often tied as to what they can and cannot do, and his suggestion was to lobby the DfT to allow them greater flexibility.

The full list of winners of the 2013 Cycle-Rail Awards is:

• Best Customer Service – Winner: Greater Anglia

• Partnership Working and Local Government Schemes – Winner: Greater Anglia

• Innovation – Winner: Bike & Go, Merseyrail

• Cycle Champion – Winner: Larry Heyman, First Capital Connect

• Door to Door Journeys including Station Travel Plans – Winner: Stirling Cycling Hub, ScotRail / Forth Environment Link

• London Cycle Parking – Winner: Peckham Rye Station, Southern

• Cycle Security Award – Winner: First Capital Connect

• Station of the Year – Winner: Chelmsford, Greater Anglia

• Operator of the Year – Winner: South West Trains

• Photography Competition – Winners: Catherine Murphy, ‘Waiting at the Station’ (pictured above) and Phil Dominey, ‘Thinking Ahead/Looking Forward’ (below).

8 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

posted by sfichele [91 posts]
21st November 2013 - 16:28

like this
Like (25)

Quite surprised not to see Northern Trains in there.
They treat cyclists with the same high quality of service and appreciation as all their users.
They really do run an excellent railway , with modern rolling stock that is always clean and comfortable, great staff who are accommodating and helpful, well staffed stations and a general overall high level of customer service.
And on the rare occasion anything goes wrong one is always left with the feeling that they really do care and that the problem will never happen again.

posted by Some Fella [706 posts]
21st November 2013 - 17:15

like this
Like (9)

Probably safe to say that Greater Anglia are the least worst!

two wheels good; four wheels bad

posted by cat1commuter [1321 posts]
21st November 2013 - 17:23

like this
Like (12)

Operator of the Year – Winner: South West Trains - lol.

posted by northstar [1083 posts]
21st November 2013 - 18:49

like this
Like (12)

Some Fella wrote:
Quite surprised not to see Northern Trains in there.
They treat cyclists with the same high quality of service and appreciation as all their users.
They really do run an excellent railway , with modern rolling stock that is always clean and comfortable, great staff who are accommodating and helpful, well staffed stations and a general overall high level of customer service.
And on the rare occasion anything goes wrong one is always left with the feeling that they really do care and that the problem will never happen again.

For a while there, I thought Northern Trains must be different to Northern Rail, but apparently not. You must be lucky, because my experience of them is completely different.

They use ancient, shabby stock that breaks down all the time, and they always strive to use as few carriages as possible, even if their trains are repeatedly so full that people can't physically fit on them. When everything goes wrong, regularly, the staff could not give less of a crap, and just stand around shrugging while 20 to 30 people have to wait another 30 minutes for the next overcrowded train to turn up, which will quite often have the exact same problem. The only good thing they're doing for cycling is forcing people to find an alternative to trains!

spatuluk's picture

posted by spatuluk [27 posts]
22nd November 2013 - 11:27

like this
Like (13)

Whilst the train companies don't really give a stuff about cyclists, the fact that there is an award to be had, should help focus their attention a tiny bit.

nowasps's picture

posted by nowasps [240 posts]
22nd November 2013 - 13:49

like this
Like (0)

Some Fella wrote:
Quite surprised not to see Northern Trains in there.
They treat cyclists with the same high quality of service and appreciation as all their users.
They really do run an excellent railway , with modern rolling stock that is always clean and comfortable, great staff who are accommodating and helpful, well staffed stations and a general overall high level of customer service.
And on the rare occasion anything goes wrong one is always left with the feeling that they really do care and that the problem will never happen again.

I'm not really well versed in code but I think you may have missed these out:

posted by farrell [1245 posts]
22nd November 2013 - 13:53

like this
Like (4)

This is just an awards ceremony organised by the rail operators to give themselves a pat on the back. Even the photography competition winners are employees.

posted by Old Cranky [276 posts]
22nd November 2013 - 13:54

like this
Like (3)