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Author Topic: Bike spaces on IETs  (Read 884 times)
Richard Fairhurst
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« on: September 30, 2020, 01:09:13 pm »

We don't have a dedicated thread for bike spaces on IETs (though they come up occasionally in the main IET thread), so I thought it worth starting one.

I note that GWR/NR's new "Joint Stakeholder Performance Plan 2020/21" says:

Quote
We will... review how we manage delays caused by unreserved, or poorly loaded cycles. We have seen a significant increase in bikes on trains during the pandemic

and

Quote
Set up joint working groups to review delays caused by late loading of luggage/cycles in key locations.

I am not at all surprised. The bike accommodation in IETs is almost designed to cause delays at stations.

Let me add a bit of first-hand experience. Over the Bank Holiday weekend I went cycling in South Wales. Because I was travelling with a bike, I planned my journey deliberately to minimise time on IETs - so rather than going via Didcot/Swindon, I went the scenic route: Charlbury-Worcester, Worcester-Gloucester, Gloucester-Cardiff. But the Cotswold Line segment was unavoidable.

The way out was fine. On the return journey, another bike joined mine halfway through the journey. Because the compartments are so cramped, the owner had a devil of a job trying to fit her bike next to mine.

I saw there was another bike loaded, so immediately after we departed from Kingham, I went to the compartment to retrieve mine in readiness to get off at Charlbury. It's a good thing I did. The two bikes were utterly wedged together. It took five minutes of wrangling to attempt to free them.

Five minutes, and ?173. Because the result was that the rear derailleur was irreparably bent (?75)... and I only noticed that belatedly, which meant a new chain (?25), cassette (?35), and bike shop labour. I guess ?173 is less than the delay minutes GWR would have had to pay... maybe I should send them an invoice?

Here's what I'd do, in easy-to-hard order:

  • Make sure all the bike/bulk areas are clearly labelled with a bike space on the exterior of the train. This Sunday just gone, my sister and I were travelling with our bikes (we'd reserved spaces). We waited in the zone that the CIS told us the bike space was in, but the conductor asked us to use the spaces further down the train. Fine... but they weren't labelled. We spent half a minute trying to find them before being able to board.
  • Tell people how they can book bike spaces. It turns out that the fastest, easiest way to book a bike space is to ask GWR on Twitter or WhatsApp. This needs to be on posters at stations. If you force people to guess which ticket booking sites can cope with bike reservations, then wade through the whole online booking process, they won't bother.
  • Get the reservation displays on the bike racks working. This reduces arguments (and delays) and enables staff to be pragmatic about whether to allow unreserved bikes.
  • Be realistic about which services need reservations. You are honestly never going to be able to stop Evesham/Pershore kids turning up with mountain bikes so they can go and see their mates in Worcester. Having the busy services alone marked with "bike reservations compulsory" would mean that people were more likely to reserve when it's needed.
  • Take out the seats with no windows; replace them with luggage racks, freeing up the bike/bulk area to be bikes alone, and meaning that the fold-down racks can be removed. (The LNER/Industry Insider solution!)
  • Remove the corridor sides from the bike compartments, and shift the 'inside' hanger a short way towards the corridor. Bikes will be less likely to get tangled up, and will be much quicker to hang up/take down. This has been known a long time (since at least the 158/159s, where several operators removed the side walls from the original compartments).
  • Remove the unused kitchens from 5-car units, turn it into a luggage/bike area, put 9-cars on the Pullmans. Cheesy
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CyclingSid
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« Reply #1 on: September 30, 2020, 04:45:37 pm »

Certainly life is difficult for those with wide handlebars. Also with disabilities or lacking in strength to the bike onto the hook. I suspect Voyagers are marginally better.
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broadgage
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« Reply #2 on: September 30, 2020, 09:53:11 pm »

Long ago, at the beginning of the IET saga, I suggested that cycle accommodation on IETs was inadequate and was a backward step if compared to HSTs.
I seem to recall that an IET advocate stated that IETs could accommodate MORE cycles than could an HST, and that the cycles spaces were purpose designed and easy to use.
Another victory for my crystal ball ?
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A proper intercity train has a minimum of 8 coaches, gangwayed throughout, with first at one end, and a full sized buffet car between first and standard.
It has space for cycles, surfboards,luggage etc.
A 5 car DMU is not a proper inter-city train. The 5+5 and 9 car DMUs are almost as bad.
southwest
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« Reply #3 on: September 30, 2020, 09:54:11 pm »

I personally never understood why the other end of the IET wasn't blanked off 1 or 2 windows like the Kitchen end, and a small Guards van made for bikes, large luggage.
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broadgage
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« Reply #4 on: September 30, 2020, 11:36:54 pm »

Removing the kitchens from the 5 car units and use of only full length trains for Pullmans has been previously suggested, but is not viable under present present circumstances.
Full length trains don't fit the depot at Penzance, hence the need need for a pair of 5 car units on the evening down Pullmans.

If however the depot at Penzance was extended to accept a full length train, AND IF  GWR/Hitachi could reliably diagram a full length train for Pullman services, then the idea may have some merit.
The kitchens on 5 car units were originally intended to offer hot snacks in standard class though this has now sunk without trace become a future aspiration.
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A proper intercity train has a minimum of 8 coaches, gangwayed throughout, with first at one end, and a full sized buffet car between first and standard.
It has space for cycles, surfboards,luggage etc.
A 5 car DMU is not a proper inter-city train. The 5+5 and 9 car DMUs are almost as bad.
southwest
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« Reply #5 on: October 01, 2020, 12:08:54 am »

Removing the kitchens from the 5 car units and use of only full length trains for Pullmans has been previously suggested, but is not viable under present present circumstances.
Full length trains don't fit the depot at Penzance, hence the need need for a pair of 5 car units on the evening down Pullmans.

If however the depot at Penzance was extended to accept a full length train, AND IF  GWR/Hitachi could reliably diagram a full length train for Pullman services, then the idea may have some merit.
The kitchens on 5 car units were originally intended to offer hot snacks in standard class though this has now sunk without trace become a future aspiration.

Yeah you've said before...

Was the idea of having kitchens in every IET to allow flexibility for the Pullmans? Previously the HST sets only had a few select sets which could do Pullmans and it became a nightmare for GWR. The 9 car IET's are mainly for Gloucester/Cheltenham route as 10 cars don't fit.

The common sense would have been to have all South West services run as 9 cars with a kitchen at one end and a small bike space at the other end. One of the bike spaces in the vestibule area could have then been a train managers office and the other a buffet. Didn't the Class 180s have a bike space at one end?
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grahame
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« Reply #6 on: October 01, 2020, 07:32:38 am »

The 9 car IET's are mainly for Gloucester/Cheltenham route as 10 cars don't fit.

I disagree. There are 35 9 car IETs.  Only 5 trains are needed for an hourly Paddington - Cheltenham Spa service.  The other 25 or so in service on a typical day are there as the mainstay of those Intercity services which are not required to split along the way to provide the services to more distant and less frequently served destination such as Weston-super-mare and Carmarthen, and some of the Penzance services.
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Richard Fairhurst
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« Reply #7 on: October 01, 2020, 11:36:40 am »

The common sense would have been to have all South West services run as 9 cars with a kitchen at one end and a small bike space at the other end. One of the bike spaces in the vestibule area could have then been a train managers office and the other a buffet. Didn't the Class 180s have a bike space at one end?

Yes, at both ends.

I never understand the argument that GWR can't diagram a small fleet of kitchen-equipped units onto the Pullman, given that they managed to diagram a small fleet of five 180s on the Cotswold Line without the units getting bored and randomly wandering off to Penzance for a holiday.
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bobm
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« Reply #8 on: October 01, 2020, 01:16:32 pm »

We are drifting away from bike spaces a bit - but...

Diagrams are fine until things start going wrong.

Towards the end of the HSTs there were fewer and fewer sets with kitchens suitable for Pullmans and while on most days they started out on the correct diagrams to form the eight services with a restaurant it was quite easy to run into problems.

Say a service from Swansea was running late into Paddington and due to form another service to South Wales.  You could utilise a set already at Paddington to form its return working and then use the late runner to take over the working the set at Paddington was booked to do.  That's fine if neither was a Pullman Service or if both had the right kitchen.  If not what do you do - cancel the service affected by the late running just so 17 people get a meal?  What do you do with the late running train when it reaches London - send it back out so late that it is just in front of the next scheduled service?

At least with a uniform fleet you have fewer constraints.  Agreed you can't run a nine car past Swansea or allow it to end the day at Long Rock.  You also cannot couple an 800 with an 802 I understand.  However in the main it is much easier to recover from problems if you have a fleet which can go "almost" anywhere.

There is a bigger question about whether 5 cars west of Plymouth is sufficient in high summer.  Even this year there have been problems due to people needing to keep their distance.  Running two five cars coupled is not ideal as at some stations - Hayle being an example - you can only get part of one of the units on the platform.  Despite announcements people have inevitably ended up in the wrong unit and been overcarried.  Nine cars would be the answer but you'd either have to run them empty to or from Plymouth for early or late evening services or extend the accommodation at Long Rock.  I don't know if that is possible let alone affordable.
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broadgage
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« Reply #9 on: October 01, 2020, 01:20:06 pm »

Whilst it sounds simple, FGW as they then were, regularly failed to send the correct sort of HST for Pullman services.

One of the alleged advantages of IETs was that every unit had a full kitchen, so no possibility of sending the wrong type as had occurred with the old trains.
In addition to the limited number of Pullman services, an at seat service of freshly cooked hot snacks was promised on other services.

It sounds as though the improved cycle accommodation has been nearly as successful as the improved catering.  
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A proper intercity train has a minimum of 8 coaches, gangwayed throughout, with first at one end, and a full sized buffet car between first and standard.
It has space for cycles, surfboards,luggage etc.
A 5 car DMU is not a proper inter-city train. The 5+5 and 9 car DMUs are almost as bad.
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« Reply #10 on: October 01, 2020, 04:43:21 pm »

The 9 car 802 IETs were also acquired to cover many of the hourly London-Oxford terminating fast services which were supposed to have been 8 car 387s before the electrification stopped.

I have a vague recollection that the bike storage was supposed to have been designed in consultation with some bike user group but it seems it must have been the wrong one! Notwithstanding the amount of storage it seems ill-suited to services where various bikes might be stored / retrieved a number of times.
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southwest
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« Reply #11 on: October 01, 2020, 05:48:10 pm »

The common sense would have been to have all South West services run as 9 cars with a kitchen at one end and a small bike space at the other end. One of the bike spaces in the vestibule area could have then been a train managers office and the other a buffet. Didn't the Class 180s have a bike space at one end?

Yes, at both ends.

I never understand the argument that GWR can't diagram a small fleet of kitchen-equipped units onto the Pullman, given that they managed to diagram a small fleet of five 180s on the Cotswold Line without the units getting bored and randomly wandering off to Penzance for a holiday.

I don't think any drivers had approvals to drive a 180 to Penzance or Bristol as all of the previous experience expired when more HST came in 2006.
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IndustryInsider
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« Reply #12 on: October 02, 2020, 02:01:21 pm »

We don't have a dedicated thread for bike spaces on IETs (though they come up occasionally in the main IET thread), so I thought it worth starting one.

I agree with many of the points in this opening post of the thread, Richard.

Reserved bike spaces usually show up on the reservation displays outside of the cycle holds, but since the Covid-19 situation led to seat reservations not being displayed (for perfectly sensible reasons) it's a shame the bike spaces are now also blank.  With the trains starting to get busier again, I think there is now a case for seat reservations to be displayed again, which would mean bike reservations would also display.

9-car IET's have hooks for ten bikes.  Two in coaches B, F (currently often labelled D), K and four in Coach J.  10-car services have room for eight bikes, two each in carriages B, D, H and K.  That is more than could be carried in the TGS of a HST (6), though in extremis the power cars could also be used.

The problem is of course that buggy provision is very poor on IETs and large luggage space is also not as good as it could be.  With all of those places acting as additional luggage holds as well it can lead to much confusion with unfolded buggies and large cases blocking off a reserved cycle space.  The exterior of the train is labelled as to where the bike storage is 'Space for two bikes' or something similar is the working, but it is a woefully small sticker and should be a great big symbol of a bike to help people find them.  The hooks themselves could do with being replaced as some really thick rimmed wheels simply won't attach to them, and, as you say, if someone else has stored their bike in one of the slots, it can be difficult to put another one in or take one out.

My suggestion for dedicated buggy spaces within the saloon would help, as would very clear signs marking which should be used for bikes, and which for luggage.  At the moment it's far too much of a free-for-all.  It would be sensible to use Coach J solely for bikes as it has the four spaces next to each other and is reasonably close to the centre of the train, with possibly Coach F as the other two to give six reservable spaces per 9-car all towards the centre of the train.  That would mean people can wait in the middle of the platform, confident that they'll be fairly close to where they need to be.  Using Coach J isn't possible on a 10-car though sadly!

We should all remember that delays for loading and unloading of bikes on HSTs were also a common occurrence with people waiting at completely the wrong end of the platform, when the train was in reverse and they hadn't been told (and sometimes when it wasn't in reverse!).  Or they'd retrieve their bike and leave the door wide open!  Passengers can keep an eye on their bike throughout the journey now, which they couldn't do on a HST and that is an improvement.  However, there is no doubting that the method of storage on a HST was easier, especially if you had any mobility issues.  For those with no mobility issues it still takes a bit of getting used to lifting your bike onto the hook and I've seen many people struggle, though after you get used to doing it, it becomes easy.  I recommend applying the rear brake as you lift the front end up then stand behind the bike, hold both handle bars and use your knee on the underside of the saddle to get it into position.  Trying to do it holding the front wheel stood by the side is asking for trouble!
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« Reply #13 on: October 02, 2020, 05:01:41 pm »

I haven't yet taken a bike on an IET but the frequent complaint I hear from friends who have is that the cycle spaces are as often as not taken up by general luggage. In fact it seems it is GWR policy that these spaces should be used as overflow luggage storage (is this right?), and perhaps because of the luggage rack installed, people do this anyway.
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« Reply #14 on: October 02, 2020, 05:14:56 pm »

I haven't yet taken a bike on an IET but the frequent complaint I hear from friends who have is that the cycle spaces are as often as not taken up by general luggage. In fact it seems it is GWR policy that these spaces should be used as overflow luggage storage (is this right?), and perhaps because of the luggage rack installed, people do this anyway.

See my previous post.  They are designated for both luggage and bikes, with no clear signs to say which has priority, apart from the reservation status display above the cubicle.  That display is currently not in use as seat reservations are not in use by GWR on any of its trains currently.
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