Bikes and trains

 Credit: Lionel Shapiro

Credit: Lionel Shapiro

The Department for Transport says it wants to see “the integration of cycling with public transport”. The message does not seem to be getting across to some of Britain’s biggest train operators.

Many of London’s railway stations have inadequate parking. Some railway operators have banned cycles on peak rail services, even on sections of the journey where there is plenty of space for cycles.

Train operators, such as South West trains and Southern Railway, have replaced slam-door carriages and guard vans – which could carry up to 12 bikes – with new trains with sliding doors, which have less bike space. The rail operators say their want to encourage cyclists, but their policies suggest otherwise.

In January, Southern trains introduced a ban on bikes on trains travelling into London or Brighton between 7am and 10am Monday to Friday and or departing from London or Brighton between 4pm and 7pm Monday to Friday.

Southern’s policy has been opposed by Brighton and Hove City Council, which claims it undermines Brighton’s aim to increase the use of environmentally friendly transport. Norman Baker, the Liberal Democrat MP, has also opposed the ban.

Southern is not alone. Other railway operators are slowly forcing bicycles off the railways with bans on bikes.

Chiltern, South Eastern Trains and Thameslink Rail have bans on bikes at peak times from Monday to Friday.

LCC is campaigning for:

  • More cycle-friendly policies on trains, with no bans on bikes at any time.

  • Cycling groups to be consulted on the design of new trains to ensure adequate provision for cyclists.

  • Better cycle parking facilities at train stations.

  • More investment and promotion of an integrated transport system in which train users are encouraged to use bike for trips to and from stations.

LCC is working with the Cyclists’ Touring Club (CTC), the national cyclists’ organisation, to ensure better provision for cyclists on the rail network.

LCC has a Cycle Parking & Carriage Group, which works to improve cycle parking at public locations, workplaces and schools, as well as the carriage of cycles on public transport.

What you can do

Cyclists are reliable and regular users of train services. You can help ensure a better deal for cyclists on the rail network by campaigning for cycle friendly policies.
Train companies depend on their customers. You can write to the train company which you use detailing any concerns about you might have about bike bans on your local services, the lack of space for bikes on train and inadequate parking facilities at stations.

To campaign for better provision on bikes by Southern Trains, you can write to:

Southern Customer Services
PO Box 277

Or contact Southern via their website.

To contact other railway companies with your comments, you can find useful emails and addresses on the A to B magazine website.

If you feel cycle provision is inadequate at a mainline station, including Paddington, Victoria, Euston, King’s Cross, Liverpool Street and London Bridge, you should contact Network Rail with your comments.

Derek Twigg MP is the transport minister with responsibility for the railway network and cycling. You can contact your local MP and urge him or her to urge Twigg to improve rail and cycle facilities and to ensure they are properly integrated.

Click on "Letter to MP" to download a suggested template letter which you could send to your MP.

The best way to stay in touch and support this campaign is to join LCC. As well as funding our work, members campaign with us locally and across the capital. Join us today. Together we can make London a world class cycling city.