Simple solution to the bikes on trains problem

Cycling is a great way to travel short journeys but for most people cycling further than a few miles is not an option they would sensibly consider. That’s where combining cycling with rail travel makes perfect sense. Ride a few miles to the train station, get on the train (with your bike) and then ride few miles at the other end.

The problem is that the train companies don’t want bikes cluttering up their trains, they want that space filled with fare paying passengers. This makes sense especially on commuter trains which are usually overcrowded already. The train companies’ solution is for everyone to have a bike at each station. This might be acceptable for commuters on a regular journey (although I doubt it), but it’s not a general solution. Their more general answer is that you hire a bike at your destination, but that’s extra expense and the bike you get is probably not that great or might not be suitable (has no racks or no child seat for example).

What’s really needed is a way to carry bikes on the trains which doesn’t reduce the amount of space in the trains and which is cheap and easy to implement. That’s exactly what’s pictured above in use in Stuttgart. Obviously that exact solution is probably not suitable to for trains travelling at 80+mph but the principle still holds. Why can’t trains in the UK have some no frills space for bikes? We used to have guards vans attached to the back of the train which served this purpose. Why can’t we have them again?

3 thoughts on “Simple solution to the bikes on trains problem

  1. Guards vans, like locos, are space that can’t carry passengers. The trains on the Cambridge lines are, at peak times, very busy. Anything that stops at Waterbeach can only be four carriages. I think several of the stations north of Ely are similarly short. If/when these stations are extended to take 8 carriage trains, the peak time trains are still likely to have people standing on them- the larger Waterbeach station is tied to the massive housing development at the army barracks. Some of the stations on the Ely-Peterborough line can only take two carriage trains.

    Some long distance trains DO still have guards vans- the electrics running on Kings Cross-Scotland, Leeds and Newcastle, for example, or the London-Norwich service. But the commuter trains are just too busy for that space luxury- a problem we share with the Dutch, who don’t allow bikes on commuter trains.

  2. If rail stations had adequate 24/7 overnight secure storage facility for bikes, then the first solution is the best. Adding weight and space on trains is both expensive and inconvenient for rail companies. Why can’t they make it a legal requirement for train stations to provide space for cycles overnight. The collection system could easily be automated and any security that look after train stations anyway, could be paid a little extra by collecting a storage fee from passengers who bring their bikes. I personally would be very happy to pay a reasonable storage fee to pay and create jobs for extra security and storage than carry my bulky bike fighting for space on a regular daily commute both ways. Bikes are also light and can be stored in places that would be completely out of the way of people for example, hanging off station ceilings or walls using hooks.
    If this idea was effectively implemented on EVERY train station in the country, many people would happily ditch polluting cars that hog road and parking spaces. COME ON JUST DO IT!

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