Cyclists banned from trains

Bicycles - but not on trains thank youI was thrown off a train at Marylebone Station 4.58pm today because I had a bike. I argued with the railway staff, including the station manager, but they enforced a rule that would not let me on their trains between 4.30pm and 7.30pm.

The train was ready to depart and there were plenty of spare seats. But they forced me to wait in London for 2 and a half hours before I could use my ticket.

People should be commended for choosing to cycle, not thrown off and prevented from travelling. Cycling, instead of driving, reduces CO2 emissions and gives people exercise. Climate change and obesity are two of our greatest challenges – cycling to work helps solve two problems in one go.

Encouraging cycling is clearly a good policy, so let's not prevent people from doing a good thing. Let's make more space for bikes on trains or just increase the frequency of trains. It's as simple as that. Yes it might mean refitting some trains or adding a carriage here or there, but if we're serious about climate change and obesity, having bikes on trains is a no-brainer.

The station manager told me that the ban was 'governments rules'. I questioned his judgement and rightly so. From what I've since read online, only some train companies ban bikes on trains, though it is an increasing trend.

The Labour Government harps on about 'integrated transport' and tackling climate but as usual, it is hype and rhetoric. Labour was petitioned 14 months ago to allow bicycles on trains but they declined to help, saying it was up to the train companies. We didn't elect our Government to pass the buck.

The train companies don't get it. The government doesn't get it. So where do we go from here?

  1. We can lobby the Office of Rail Regulation.
  2. We can lobby the train companies.
  3. We can vote Labour out of power in 2 years time. And we will.

1 Comment »

  1. Simon Ashton said,

    May 5, 2008 @ 5:10 pm

    Spot on Jake. This has become a real problem for me as someone who likes to cycle out of London and then come back on a train – the new rolling stock on all UK lines now can only accomodate a few bicycles and in summer months these become hotly contested forcing cyclists to wait for later trains. In the older days we always had a “mail carraige” where cyclists could put their bikes and there was plenty of room for many cycles. This is a classic example of a failed integrated transport policy (as you mention) if the Gov. were commited to such things they could insist that train companies provide ample accomodation for bikes as condition of license.

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