CityCyclingEdinburgh Forum » Commuting

Scotrail and cycles

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  1. gwak
    Member

    Anybody have horror stories to share about commuting with a bike on Scotrail?

    Posted 8 years ago #
  2. bianchi
    Member

    A leading question. But, I will disagree. I have been commuting daily to Glasgow with my bike for the last 2 years and have nothing but praise for Scotrail. Even on a very busy commuter train, there is always room and the staff are pretty friendly and helpful. So, absolutely no problems for me - I am a fan of Scotrail and NO I have no connection with the company other than investing a significant sum of money annually for my ticket.

    Posted 8 years ago #
  3. andyw
    Member

    Scotrail are generally good and sometimes excellent but I have come across some jobsworths who have removed cyclists from trains or obeyed the "two bikes" signs that are on some trains. "The safety of the train is compromised by your bike" is what I am quoted. When trains are busy rules go out the window. Been to Germany and Spain this year and their trains + bikes rules are very relaxed.

    Posted 8 years ago #
  4. gwak
    Member

    bianchi: I am glad to hear that you have had good luck with your bike on the Glasgow route ( I am hoping to start working in Glasgow soon). My daily commute is Edinburgh->Livingston North and it has been an absolute nightmare. The problems could be exasperated by the amount of cyclists on the peak hour trains due to the public transportation infrastructure in Livingston. The problems are as "andyw" pointed out were guards take the the 2 cycle rule to literary and more seriously a inconsistent amount of cycling coaches on trains. Some days the 17:30 train might have 1 cycle coaches and some days it might have 3 cycle coaches. This inconsistency combined with combative nature of the staff has made my morning and evening commutes really stressful and creates strife between cyclists as 10 cyclists attempt to pile into 1 coach.

    Posted 8 years ago #
  5. andyw
    Member

    Rush hour is a different matter. When trains are busy then many "safety" rules, correctly, go out the window in order to get people home. Suddenly buggies and luggage are allowed in areas banned when the train is quiet. I have found Scot Rail Customer Realtions to be both friendly and receptive and suggest you make your points to them. See here http://www.scotrail.co.uk/contactus/index.html

    The current government policy is to make us healthier so perhaps a letter to your MSP would also help?

    Posted 8 years ago #
  6. Kirst
    Member

    Not a commuting story, but a ScotRail story. Last year myself and 2 friends decided to get the train to Falkirk to see the Wheel and cycle back. Bike spaces on the train were in use for baby buggies so we put three bikes into a space for two. A jobsworth threw us off at Polmont - not interested in moving the buggies from the bike spaces, he just threw us off, although it was a Sunday and the train was half empty.

    Posted 8 years ago #
  7. SRD
    Moderator

    Likewise, not commuting, but frustrating. We have now twice taken two bikes and childseat on weekend trips. Once -- Edinburgh to S Queensferry for Dalmeny estate -- buggy was occupying bike spots, but guard didn't care and left us in the vestibule. A few weeks ago, as we were trying to come back from Aberlady bay, at LongNiddry female guard wouldn't let us on, as there were two bikes on, and only 1 rack, even though train was empty. Try explaining to 2 year old 'why that lady wouldn't let us get on the train' as it gets darker and darker. Kirst - I would have insisted they move baby buggies and refused to budge. SRD

    Posted 8 years ago #
  8. Tulyar
    Member

    Can you post a bit more detail to me by PM). wee folding bike and (he may post here) navyblue attend Scotrail Cycle Forum meetings, and need feedback. I've also had approach through CTC nationally by national broadcaster, looking for details of rejections.

    Especially useful are :

    1) Any journey made on lightly loaded service number of bikes, total number of passengers, type of train (from this can get total number of seats). This gives % of passengers travelling with bikes and % of seats filled. A typical loading on the 14.15 Ardrossan Harbour (boat train) service would see 13-16 bikes and 130-140 passengers on 260-seat 3-coach trains (ie 10%). 10% is a common loading for bikes on trains outside peak hours but some Sunday trains used by groups heading out from London to Home Counties report up to 70% of fare paying passengers with bikes (OK so the only 19 passengers on 246-seat train weighing 180 Tons..)

    2) if a regular user of regular service, a study over a period of the numbers carried. The Severn Beach Line commuters, many taking reverse commute bikes because of the long distances to work-sites at Filton North, and Avonmouth Docks, did a study that showed cycle using passengers were between 40 and 50% of fare paying users between Stapleton Rd and Avonmouth, and up to 16 bikes (conventional & folding) travelling on 102-seat 2-coach train)

    I believe that after POP28 the 'quiet/secret' train (North Berwick to Glasgow Central via Carstairs) had around 36 bikes comfortably on board, and I've travelled on one back from a bike ride with 16 bikes and under 100 passengers boarding at N Berwick

    Personally witnessed record 37 bikes on 08.11 train Glasgow QS to Balloch (counted off train at Balloch) in 1988 on a Thursday morning for opening of Loch Lomond Cycle route to SEC. Very similar loadings for same type of train when cyclists return from Liverpool-Chester bike ride (50-60 bikes on 6-coaches).

    Significant impasse with Scotrail over official carriage of tandems - which will easily fit on to Class 323, 380, 170, and (at toilet end) of Class 156. Should also be possible on Class 158's modified for Highland lines.

    Big users of trains are kids going to BMX and MTB honeypot sites especially Unit 23 in Dumbarton, often up to 10 bikes per train, and some serious issues on duty of care when kids are bounced and dumped for up to 1 hour at a station at night, when trains are less than 50% filled. HOWEVER the issue would be mitigated if cyclists worked with train crew to pack bikes efficiently, in order of disembarkation, and by removing front wheels, or turning 'bars made it possible to pack bikes in to spaces not large enough for fully assembled machines (eg luggage racks) 8 bikes and 78 passengers on train to Taplow for example, had 2 bikes sans front wheel fitted easily in luggage racks.

    Experience with Stagecoach Express coaches also welcomed , a faster and cheaper way for Dunfermline-Glasgow and was a regular commute for David Dean (of kilt on 3-speed with basket stopped for doing 35mph down Queensferry Road) - he cycled from Fordell to Dunfermline or Rosyth? for X24 service. Reports of up to 10 BMX using coach to Aberdeen for indoor BMX Park.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  9. Smudge
    Member

    I complained to scotrail customer service about the inadequate bike storage (cupboard!) On their dunblane serv especially. With a photo, I got an offhand reply claiming they'd "researched" my complaint and saying it's not official bike storage then quoting(irrelivant) bits of terms of carriage.
    If they don't even know their own stock and can't be a**ed to check, what hope?
    Ime 90% of guards are good, 10% clearly don't want bikes on the train at all.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  10. chdot
    Admin

    "
    CTC (@CTC_Cyclists)
    25/02/2013 12:05
    Have you ever been forced to leave a train with your bike? TV company interested in hearing your stories.

    "

    Posted 4 years ago #
  11. SRD
    Moderator

    Tulyar, our problem was that we went out to Longniddry in late autumn - to take our birdwatcher to see the geese at Aberlady. We cycled back to Longniddry late in the afternoon, hoping to get the last train before it got dark, but they'd replaced the 'normal' train (with space for 6+ bikes at the front) with one of those standard commuters, which only had one bike holder on it, which was in use (presumably loaded in North berwick). the guard wouldn't let us on, even though the rest of the train was empty. Left us standing in cold and dark with hungry toddler for an hour.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  12. kaputnik
    Moderator

    Yes, it's the 10% of overly-officious, jobsworth guards who let the rest of them down, who are generally fine and some are downright helpful (nice guard on Ardrossan train wasn't fazed by there being about 20 bikes on his train, and even came round before stations with platforms on alternate sides to let us know to move to other side of vestibule in advance).

    I was nearly abandoned in Thurso by Scotrail (one train a day on a Sunday) when the unit arriving had space for only 2 bikes and there were at least 3 non-booked LEJOGGERs, myself, plus others who had already boarded in Wick. Guard said he couldn't let on more than the booked number of bikes as they would "count them off" at Inverness and it was morethanhisjobsworth.

    I happened to know one of the other cyclists through road club and the two of us "debated" with him for a bit and then managed to talk our way on to the train if we promised to get off at the stop before Inverness (Muir of Ord, about 8miles) and finish the journey by bike. Of course a Sunday train from Thurso is not a busy affair, and there was plenty of room to carefully bungee the bikes onto the end of the rack where they caused no obstruction.

    My companion decided to get off in Dingwall and continue on the next day and the guard duly came round before Muir of Ord to remind me to get off. I innocently pointed out that I had a changover time of 8 minutes at Inverness at which point the train was already due to leave Ord so he sulked off in a huff and left me on the train.

    We duly got to Inverness, which on a Sunday afternoon was devoid of any platform staff. I had a reservation for bike from Inverness to Edinburgh (change at Stirling). Inverness guard was happy to let extra, unreserved bikes on, and same at Stirling where I had a reservation but couldn't get near the bike rack due to overcrowding on the train.

    The other cyclist I had been with on Thurso train had entertained me with a story of a German couple on tour who had been refused access to a train with their tandem so Scotrail called BTP to throw them off again.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  13. acsimpson
    Member

    I was planning on leaving my Helios at Edinburgh Gateway this week as I needed a child transport after work. Unfortunately after purchasing my ticket my train was announced as cancelled. Fortunately there was another train due in 10 minutes. Unfortunately it was from South Gyle. Fortunately there is a fairly direct path most of the the way between the stations and so I caught the next train. Unfortunately South Gyle isn't a place I want to leave a bike. Fortunately a Helios can fit on a train with a little manoeuvring and despite a few surprised expressions there were no objections.

    Coming back was also fine. So I have now tested both main train types on the Fife circle with a Helios and confirm they fit... However... (there's always a but) getting a Helios into the lift at Edinburgh Gateway was awkward. The lifts there are clearly not designed for such a long vehicle and the only way to fit it was to stand it on end.

    Scotrail seem able to cancel timetabled stops without any consideration for the effects. It's a shame they can't add stops too. The train I caught after my sprint passes straight through Gateway and I don't think would be badly affected should it add a stop to it's schedule.

    Posted 4 days ago #
  14. LaidBack
    Member

    Good report. Luckily it's a light enough tandem to be stood onto rear wheel.
    With ScotRail you have to accept they will change rules on a whim if something catches their eye. The Helios is fairly non threatening though with small wheels and the bars could be removed quickly if required.

    Posted 4 days ago #
  15. chrisfl
    Member

    Good to know - have been wondering how Scotrail would react to a Helios.

    Posted 4 days ago #
  16. acsimpson
    Member

    In that case you may also like to know that I had a copilot seat attached.

    Laidback, indeed. At a push I could carry it up stairs so light compared to most of your products.

    Posted 4 days ago #
  17. Tulyar
    Member

    Possession (or occupation) being 9 points of the law, he fist move is to get on and stow the bike neatly if you can.

    At all cycling forums (and Scotrail has one) we stress the importance of empowerment for front line staff to make 'sensible' decisions which may not be strictly to the letter of the 'rules', and for the safety case for cycles on trains includes guidance on use of space other than a formal bike space. Scotrail does have this in a protocol for using the double door vestibule spaces on most of their local & electric trains when the trains are not busy and platforms are on the same side. This seems to work fairly well - I've counted 32 bikes off a 6 coach High Level train

    Be pleasant but determined to keeps the staff on-side but realise that every minute that your train PLUS all the other trains that your train delays clocks up at well over 100/minute depending on the route being blocked. So unless the guard is being blindly obstinate they will realise that a pragmatic solution if to let you on board and sort it out en route.

    Spokes rep on the Scotrail Forum has been a champion for tandems, and with the twins, I've travelled with a trike and with a U plus 2 without problems. many of the trains used have no problems in accommodating tandems or trikes, and Abellio Greater Anglia (using the same Class 170's) carries tandems. Scotrail agreed to a trial but instead of inviting some real tandem users to be present, with the skills to manouevre a tandem, and the ability to review any snags that might be likely, they borrowed a tandem and tried to get it on to a train themselves (it was not apparently considered a success, and no pictures were taken!). Anyone who uses a tandem will now that a novice will need time to learn the alternative techniques to manage a bike which is about 50% longer, especially when 'parking' it. Time perhaps with the new Class 385 and Class 380 becoming the core local trains in Central Scotland, to have another tandem trial - so Spokes lobby activated?

    Posted 2 days ago #
  18. LaidBack
    Member

    @Tulyar - At all cycling forums (and Scotrail has one) we stress the importance of empowerment for front line staff to make 'sensible' decisions which may not be strictly to the letter of the 'rules'....

    ScotRail have a forum?

    Irene and I dread ScotRail after this years extremely stressful encounter with 'Billy' the guard on the Oban to Dumbarton train after our lovely holiday to Tiree.
    Basically we have been told to get a car if we want to move our folding tandem to the highlands.
    Such bikes are referred to be hostile staff as 'Eurobikes' and are not welcome it seems.
    Even if they don't get in anyone's way they just don't like them. They also don't like 29'ers and fatbikes on Oban / Fort William trains.

    Posted 2 days ago #
  19. Arellcat
    Moderator

    Meanwhile in Öresundståget, a velomobile on a train.

    (FB link, so may not work…)

    Posted 2 days ago #

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