A Conversation for British Trains
Anyone else ever tried to take a bicycle on a train? (If you haven't, dont!)
PonderingStudent Started conversation Mar 5, 2007
The joys of an 'intergrated' public transport system...Recently I made the mistake of taking, over a weekend, 6 different trains, all with a bicycle.
To start: I was told different things by different employees. To whit, you don't need to book a bicycle reservation, you only need to book at peak time/on virgin trains, its advisable to book, you have to book or you can't take the bike.
Station lifts aren't big enough for bikes, so you end up carrying it up stairs.
The places where you put the bike are different for each type of train. You have approx 20 seconds to identfy the right place and manhandle bike onto train. On older virgin trains you then have to get out of guard's van and back onto passenger bit before the train leaves. On newer ones, you (height 5'4") have to lift front wheel of bike onto hook hanging from ceiling. On first great western, the designated space was full of luggage. If you give up the unequal struggle and stand in a lobby, you get scolded by a train guard.
Then, the crowning glory. Engineering works and a 'rail replacement bus'. Fine, except someone at First Great Western has forgotten to book aforesaid bus. After agonised protests that I had to be in Reading by 9, rail company agrees to put discontented passengers in taxis...ah, but the bicycle! For small extra consideration, taxi driver bends the rules and bike and I share a taxi, costing ticket payers £30. I arrive at my destination only an hour late....quite an achievement considering. Especially as, according to the duty manager at Oxford train station, "too many people are taking bicycles on trains these days." Brave souls!
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