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Dutch-style bike hire scheme now at more than 40 railway stations in England (+ video)

Abellio, overseas arm of Netherlands' national rail operator, plans more openings...

An award-winning bike hire scheme from a Dutch-owned rail operator has now been launched at more than 40 stations across England. The initiative, called Bike & Go, comes from Abellio which operates the Northern Rail, Greater Anglia and Merseyrail franchises, and is modelled on a similar scheme in the Netherlands.

According to Local Transport Today, the initiative, which is modelled on the OV Fiets system operated by Abellio’s owner, the Dutch state railway service Nederlandse Spoorwegen (NS), and allows rail users to hire the bikes for £3.80 a day, has now been rolled out to 43 stations across the three networks.

Those stations are:

North East and Yorkshire

Almouth, Barnsley, Beverley, Bradford Interchange, Halifax, Harrogate, Leeds, Meadowhall, Rotherham, Shipley and Wakefield.

North West and Merseyside

Aintree, Altrincham, Blackburn, Blackpool North, Buxton, Ellesmere Port, Formby, Hooton, Knutsford, Liverpool Central, Liverpool South Parkway, Maghull, Morecambe, New Brighton, Ormskirk, Rochdale, Southport, St Helens Central, Todmorden, West Kirby, Wigan Wallgate, Wilmslow, and Whitehaven.

Anglia & South East

Bishops Stortford, Clacton-on-Sea, Colchester, Ely, Enfield Town, Manningtree, Harold Wood, Romford, Lowestoft and Southend Victoria.

Andrew Bristow, project manager of Bike & Go – which is co-ordinated by Merseyrail and last year won a national Cycle-Rail Award – told Local Transport Today that there are 10 bicycles at almost all of the stations included in the scheme.

He added that an app is in the pipeline that will provide information including how many are available at each location.

The stations have been chosen partly for their proximity to places such as higher education sites, as well as for demographic reasons, and Mr Bristow said that it could also be rolled out to other locations besides railway stations following enquiries from local authorities, a different rail operator, and even a charity.

Hopes to launch the initiative in Manchester city centre have not yet come to fruition, however, due to an inability to reach agreement with stakeholders involved.

Abellio does however plan to add more stations to the scheme, with Hebden Bridge, Hexham, London Liverpool Street, Stowmarket, Great Yarmouth, Ipswich and Chelmsford all set to join it, plus seven stations on the Merseyrail network.

The system itself requires users to sign up online and pay an annual fee of £10. For that, they receive a smartcard that needs to be presented at the station ticket office to receive a key to unlock the bike.

So far, 250 people have signed up since the scheme was launched in August last year, and one potential barrier is that the bike needs to be returned to the same station from which it was hired.

The following video shows how the scheme works.

Mr Bristow told Local Transport Today: “Do we want to move to the next level? That’s what we’ll be asking ourselves but we’ve got to get the basics right first. It’s also got to be viable for us.”

Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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