Abellio Greater Anglia cycle forum

Abellio Greater Anglia logo Class 156The train operating company Abellio Greater Anglia (AGA), which runs trains to Ely and manages Ely station, has recently established a cycle forum, which is intended to be a means of communication and discussion between the company and those interested in the intersection between train travel and cycling in the AGA franchise area.

The first meeting of the forum was held in London on 31 July 2014, and was attended by members of AGA senior management, and representatives of interested groups and organisations, including local government, tourism organisations, and local cycling campaigns. Neil Jones attended on behalf of Ely Cycling Campaign.

The following (in summary form) are some of the key points to emerge in discussion at the meeting:

The current AGA franchise is short-term, expiring in October 2016. The process of bidding for the next franchise will begin fairly soon. AGA (with its Dutch link through Abellio) wants to be seen as cycle-friendly, and to do ‘all it reasonably can’ to provide for cycling.

The terms of the current AGA franchise mean that no more capacity (i.e. rolling stock) can be provided before the end of the current franchise, and in practice not for another two or three years after that (and any provision after October 2016 would depend upon the terms of the new franchise, which are yet to be determined). Over the same timescale, because of limits to the available rolling stock there will be almost no additional train frequency in the franchise area (and none in the Ely area).

AGA view their challenges in relation to cycling as including: carriage of bikes on trains; cycle parking capacity; promoting their Bike & Go bike hire scheme; and management of restrictions on carrying bikes on trains.

Having consulted on the draft cycle strategy circulated in September 2013 (to which Ely Cycling Campaign responded), AGA propose to redraft parts of it in light of the consultation and of discussion at the forum meeting, and to issue a final version later this year (which will then be subject to periodic review).

AGA have no intention at present of increasing current restrictions on carrying full-size bikes on trains, and have no plans to impose any restrictions on carrying folding bicycles (though AGA found that responses to the consultation document contained more negative comments about the carriage of folding bikes on trains than they had expected). AGA accept that parts of the guidance in the draft strategy on using folding bicycles need revision (e.g. the instruction to pack away helmet and lights outside the station), but seem likely to continue to require folding bicycles to be folded before passing through the gate line (on the basis that this is last point at which staff can ensure that bikes are not taken onto trains unfolded).

AGA intend eventually to be more strict about enforcing restrictions on carrying non-folding bikes, in particular in the Ely/Cambridge area, though they do not intend to do this until planned improvement of cycle provision at Cambridge and Ely is completed.

AGA regard the Cambridge-Ely/Ely-Cambridge route as the key area in their franchise which raises questions about the carriage of bikes on trains, and regard this as needing separate consideration because it involves not only AGA but also two other train operating companies (First Capital Connect and CrossCountry).

AGA have plans for the construction of a ‘cycle point’ at Ely station, to open in 2015, which will involve turning space in the station buildings currently used for retail into a facility for cyclists, which will include cycle maintenance, cycle hire, and secure parking which will be paid for. There will also be free parking outside the station (the cycle parking currently on the platform will be removed).

It is intended that the forum should meet three times a year (not necessarily always in London), and that it should include representatives of front-line staff from Abellio Greater Anglia. It is hoped that over time a secretariat might be developed which was staffed (on a volunteer basis) by interested user representatives, rather than by AGA staff.

6 thoughts on “Abellio Greater Anglia cycle forum

  1. I’m very concerned to hear that the cycle parking facilities on Ely platform are going to be removed. As they are, they are woefully inadequate. I do hope that the proposed cycle parking outside the station will provide more spaces than there are at present. I can’t help but feel that proposed pay-for ‘secure’ parking could become a tax on cycling if sufficient alternative non secure parking is not provided.

    1. We understand from Abellio Greater Anglia that they plan to provide 210 free cycle parking spaces outside the station when the parking on the platform is removed. At the moment there are about 180 spaces on the platform, so there should be a modest increase in free spaces, even if no-one who currently parks on the platform decides to pay for secure parking under the new arrangements. (My own experience is that the current spaces on the platform are rarely – if ever – completely full, though it can be necessary to walk a long way down the platform to find a free space at peak times.) The point was made by a number of people at the cycle forum meeting that it is important that Abellio Greater Anglia do not over-estimate the demand for paid-for cycle parking.

      1. 30 more spaces but far less secure than the current parking because any idiot in a van will be able to drive up to it and load stolen bikes straight in. Has AGA been given a copy of http://www.MakingSpaceForCycling.org ?

        Who was at the forum? I’m disappointed that KLWNBUG, the CycleNation local group for West Norfolk and surrounding areas, doesn’t seem to have been invited and none of our sister groups seems to have thought it worth telling us about this forum before it met. We responded to the strategy consultation too and it took a lot of work to get that acknowledged. We have GA services, but GN stations and services.

      2. It might be worth your contacting Abellio Greater Anglia and asking about involvement in the next meeting of the forum. As I understand it, the intention is that there be three meetings a year, with the next before Christmas 2014.

  2. I’d be interested to hear where exactly the new cycle parking outside the station will be located. At the moment I’m not sure where it would go, unless car parking space is removed.

    What is the reasoning for moving the cycle parking outside, away from the platforms? Will the space be re-purposed for retail to compensate for the eviction of the existing retail space? The cynic in me says that it’s a ploy to restrict people bringing bikes through the congested ticket hall at peak times, rather than invest in the ticket hall itself. Anybody with luggage or a pushchair is similarly inconvenienced by the regular peak time chaos there, but bikes are an easy target.

    1. There is a map (taken from the tender documents) of the planned location of the new cycle parking on a separate blog post about the Cycle Point. I know of no plan to re-allocate the current cycle parking space to retail to compensate for the loss of existing retail space. My sense is that the Cycle Point would have gone ahead anyway, irrespective of the inadequacy of the ticket hall at peak times, though it may well be that Abellio Greater Anglia have in mind reducing bike traffic through the ticket hall. The point has been made in correspondence with Abellio that the ticket hall and its doors are in any event seriously inadequate, and that people taking bikes on trains (where permitted) will still need to go through the ticket hall, as will, as you say, those with luggage or a pushchair. We are told that Abellio are looking at the configuration of the ticket hall, but that this is at a very early stage, and may be subject to planning restrictions. My own view is that it is clear that something must be done about the ticket hall, quite apart from bikes, and that if planning restrictions cause difficulties in terms of the building they will need to open a gate onto the platform which doesn’t go through the building to relieve the pressure. (As I’ve pointed out to Abellio customer service on a number of occasions, things are not helped by the fact that all of the ticket machines are in the ticket hall – I’ve found it very difficult to understand why some of them can’t be on the platform, thus reducing the numbers queuing for tickets in the ticket hall itself. Though that wouldn’t deal with the narrowness of the doors …)

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