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Author Topic: Bike spaces on IETs  (Read 6745 times)
froome
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« Reply #45 on: September 11, 2021, 09:13:36 am »

I travelled back from Rhyl (oh, the glamour!) yesterday - two of us, two (narrow) bikes, reservations made for each leg. Interesting to contrast the provision on the three trains we took.

Leg 1 was Rhyl to Wolverhampton, a TfW 158: 2 carriages to begin, 4 carriages after Chester. There was one (folding but unfolded) bike already on, and a third cyclist getting on at Rhyl with us. That's twice as many bikes as the stated capacity, but it worked fine, thanks not least to the very helpful guard who was keen to talk to us about his new gravel bike!

Leg 2 was Wolverhampton to Oxford, a CrossCountry 22something - or two in fact, totalling nine carriages. Voyager bike accommodation is slightly curious: 2 hanging cabinets, one taking two bikes, the other only one. Absolutely full marks to the XC staff member who saw there was a single, wide-handlebarred bike in the 2-bike cabinet, and took it on herself to move that across to the 1-bike cabinet so we could get ours in.

Leg 3 was Oxford to Charlbury, and a five-coach IET (Intercity Express Train). I had an ominous feeling this would be the tricky one, and it was. No indication of which of the two "bike & bulk" rooms we were meant to use, but we chose the one nearest the front (and suggested to an Oxford-Hanborough cyclist that he use the other). But, as documented, IET bike spaces are not forgiving for anything that isn't a narrow-barred road bike... and though ours were, an existing occupant of the space wasn't: an "e-bike" that I would charitably describe as a motorbike with pedals. Absolutely no way you could have got a fully folded Brompton in the cabinet with it, let alone two full-size bikes! So we stood in the vestibules with our bikes and manhandled them out the way at Hanborough. No sign of any staff.

Any lessons learned? One is that staff goodwill can go a very long way - we were delighted with how helpful the TfW and XC staff were.

The second is that bikes come in all sorts of shapes and sizes these days, and bike accommodation needs to keep pace with that. I doubt it's ever going to be feasible for motorbike-sized e-bikes to be transported by train, and TOCs (Train Operating Company) might want to consider setting a maximum size. But the wide-barred bike on the Voyager was just a "normal bike", and it was a little alarming that it nominally took up two spaces.

Similarly, the folding bike on the 158 would ideally have been in a luggage rack, folded, rather than the main bike spaces. Luggage racks have been getting smaller over time, not least with IETs compared to HSTs (High Speed Train), and maybe that needs to be revisited.

Coincidentally I was coming back through Rhyl on the same day, with my Brompton (completely folded), and Rhyl was looking very wet, so I hope that downpour missed you.  Smiley

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« Reply #46 on: September 11, 2021, 02:07:52 pm »

Usually there is a cycle symbol on the CIS (Customer Information System) at Oxford to show which carriage/zone the cycles go.  With the reservation, did the carriage letter not come with that?

Cycle reservation tickets do not show the coach letter.

Ok, that’s interesting to know. 

I can’t imagine it would be difficult to provide that information as they are all part of the same reservation system as the seats (numbered 97/98 IIRC (if I recall/remember/read correctly)) and have their own display above the compartment.

You could do Coach B for 5-car services, and Coaches B and K for 9 or 10 car services.
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