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Cycling UK slams "awful" cycle storage on GWR's high-speed trains

There have been similar complaints about bike spaces on LNER's new trains, also made by Hitachi...

Cyclists on two of the UK’s main rail lines are encountering problems with bike storage on the latest generation of high-speed trains – not only because space is extremely limited, but also due to many being unable to physically fit their bikes in the allotted spaces, with Cycling UK describing the provision as “awful.”

GWR, which operates services to the Wales and the south west of England, and LNER, the operator of trains on the East Coast Main Line to destinations including York, Newcastle upon Tyne and Edinburgh, both now have fleets of trains from the Hitachi AT300 family.

They were first introduced in the UK by GWR in October 2017 under the brand name Intercity Express Train and entered service on the East Coast Main Line in May this year, with the brand name Azuma.

We’ve previously reported on one reader’s experience of trying to board one of the GWR trains and the difficulty he had once on board, and recent posts to Twitter show that he is far from alone.

Indeed, this morning Cycling UK – who were heading this morning from Reading to today’s Pedal on the Senedd ride in Cardiff to call for more money for cycling – tweeted a picture of the bike storage space they encountered, contrasting it with the situation on trains in France.

While the experience can be frustrating for cyclists, who on the routes concerned will have typically been required to book a place for their bike, it can also creates problems for the train operators, since difficulties in getting a bicycle on or off the train can lead to delayed departure.

A search on the Twitter feeds of both LNER and GWR highlights plenty of examples of passengers who have had problems using the trains while travelling with bikes, some in response to Cycling UK’s tweet today.

Sam Jones, senior campaigns officer at Cycling UK, who was on the train and took the photos, told that not only is the storage space almost impossible to use for people travelling with anything other than a road bike, but it also means that many disabled people who have no trouble cycling – as highlighted in Wheels for Wellbeing’s campaign, My Cycle, My Mobility Aid – would be unable to use such trains.

He said: "Putting it simply this sort of provision is dreadful. It might work if the only bike people used were road bikes with skinny tyres and narrow handlebars but that's not the case.

"30 per cent of the bikes bought in the UK are mountain bikes with wider tyres that will really struggle to fit on those ludicrous hooks – and that's assuming the handlebars will fit into this broom cupboard masquerading as cycle storage. 26 per cent of the bikes sold are classic or hybrid bikes and only 10 per cent road, so this design does seem to cater to the minority of bike users.

"One of the biggest problems of cycle carriage is the diversity of bikes – a one size fits all solution isn't always possible, but this is a design that would seem to fit only a minority.

"In the end, when the space cleared I was able to fit my bike, but only with considerable effort and manhandling to get my 26x2.0 tyres into the hook - removing the bike was not an easy process either. I'm relatively young and fit and have to ask if I struggled how would someone older or less able than I fare?

"It's a design that is not future proofed either, as with more people buying e-bikes that are not exactly light – how will they manage to lift up such a heavy bike and manhandle it in such a confined space?

"It's exceptionally disappointing to see on a new train – this could and should have been avoided with proper consultation before the rolling stock was entered into service," he added.

Here is a selection of tweets about the bike storage on the trains currently being rolled out across LNER's network.



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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