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Don't take bikes on trains for Tour de France, say rail companies

Normal cycle policies will apply on rail network, without reservation you could be disappointed

If you’re thinking about taking your bike with you to watch the Tour de France in July but need to take a train for part of the journey, you may have to rethink your plans – it could be more hassle than it’s worth.

Train operators are asking people to avoid travelling with bikes during the three days the race is in the UK, and advise that those who have not reserved a space in advance, an option usually only available on some inter-ciy trains, may end up being disappointed and have to take a later service than the one they planned.*

With around a million people expected to watch each of two stages in Yorkshire and the one that runs from Cambridge to London, train services are expected to be much busier than usual.

Additional long-distance trains will be scheduled and more carriages added to some existing services.

However, no extra provision is being made for those wanting to bring their bicycles and normal rules on the carriage of bikes will apply, says the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC).

That means that folding bikes will be allowed – so folding bikes should be allowed, but it’s probably best to check in advance.

ATOC adds that information on local trains in the areas the race passes through will be announced next month.

Conrad Haigh, head of integrated transport at the Association of Train Operating Companies, said: “The Tour de France coming to Britain is a great occasion and train operators have worked hard with the organisers to ensure that as many people as possible can get to the event by train.

“Operators will keep their usual cycle carriage policies in place but passengers need to be aware that the demand for space will be much higher.

“As well as people who normally travel, more will be using the train to avoid road closures and there will be thousands of Tour spectators so many services will be very busy.

“Cyclists are being asked to take a sensible approach and avoid bringing a bike on any train that might be busier than usual because of the Tour de France but, if it’s unavoidable, they should allow extra time to make their journey.”

You can find more details about taking bikes on trains on the National Rail Enquiries website, or in the National Rail Cycling by Train leaflet.

The picture accompanying this article, called Waiting at the Station by Catherine Murphy, was one of the joint winners of the photographic competition at the 2013 Cycle-Rail Awards, organised by ATOC.

* Correction: The original version of this article suggested that those who have booked in advance might not be able to get on the train they have reserved with their bike. This is not in fact the case.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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