Survey shows new Eurostar bike restrictions will deter customers

We reported on Eurostar’s new cycle carriage policy in October and asked you to fill in our short survey to tell us what you thought. The results confirmed exactly what we argued; that the new cycle policy would deter people from travelling with bikes on Eurostar due the huge inconvenience and impracticality of dismantling and reassembling cycles on the platforms at either end of the journey.

A whopping 98% of the 1241 people who took part in the survey told us they would look to more convenient travel options instead.

More importantly, the new policy will simply discriminate against many passengers wishing to travel with their cycle and, as our survey highlights, would actually make it impossible for some people to use the service in future.

 “I am disabled and this policy would make the bike service impossible for me to use alone. This is totally unacceptable”.

 “We love travelling by Eurostar and love cycling. The two are compatible, but I couldn’t begin to dismantle my bike. I’m nearly 70!”

“I have a 3 year old on a seat, so even if it were possible to dismantle and reassemble the bike and seat, how would I do this in a busy station while looking after a toddler?

We used the information you gave us to write an Open Letter to Nicolas Petrovic, CEO of Eurostar urging him to rethink the policy.

You can read the letter here.

Ashok Sinha, Chief Executive of the London Cycling Campaign said,

“As our survey clearly shows, the new Eurostar Cycle Carriage policy means many of those who want to travel with a bike to Europe will be forced to find alternative arrangements. This will not only mean a loss of income but also undermine Eurostar’s role in providing integrated, sustainable transport. 

“Eurostar must be commended for providing a valued cycle carriage service to date. But we’re urging them to reconsider the changes to regain the confidence of the many Londoners who would like to continue to use their service with their cycles.

What else did you tell us?

We asked 1241 people “If you had to disassemble and reassemble your bike at the station before and after travelling by Eurostar with your bike (i.e. take off the wheels and pedals) would you be able to do this confidently and safely?”

  • Only 212 people said yes (17%)
  • 1002 people said no (81%)

Those who said no, were asked why, and of those 1002 people here’s what they told us:

  • 332 (33%) people said the design of their bike would make this impossible or very difficult   
  • 49 (5%) people said they had a disability or condition that would prevent them from doing this
  • 396 (40%) people said they did not know how to disassemble their bike 
  • 761 (76%) people said it would take a long time 
  • 510 (51% people said that they wouldn't know how to re-assemble their bike safely
  • 515 (51%) people said they didn’t have the right tools to do this 
  • 604 (60%) people said that disassembling their bike at the station would risk damaging it 

Respondents were then asked “Would the requirement to dismantle your bike discourage you from travelling by Eurostar in favour of a more convenient way to travel with your bike? i.e. By ferry or plane.”

  • 1214 people said yes (98%)
  • 19 people said no (1.53%)

Hundreds of you left comments about how the new changes would affect you. Here’s just a few….

“The new restrictions would make us cancel our planned family cycling trip to France next year”

“I was intending to travel by Eurostar and then cycle (on my own) in France next year – but if their policy changes then I will no longer be able to go!”

 “My wife and I travel to France by ferry at least twice a year with our bikes. We’d love to be able to do this by train but to disassemble and reassemble our bike, with panniers and luggage would simply to too complicated!”

“This is such a shame. France is such a brilliant country to cycle around”

 “The main reason I travelled in the past by Eurostar was the simplicity of its travel policies with regards to bikes, baggage etc. when compared to planes. If travelling by rail becomes as complicated as travelling by air, the shift towards faster and cheaper planes will become the travelling choice of many I’m afraid.”

 “With a change of policy, Eurostar would no longer be convenient, or cost effective for bike trips, compared to flying”

“This is a regressive step, out of touch with year-on-year rises in cycle usage, especially in London, and also compared with more advanced and forward-thinking approaches to bike rail transport you find in Northern Europe.”

 “I thought companies were supposed to be encouraging environmentally friendly travel? Eurostar and taking a backward step here”

Clearly, the new policy won’t work for the vast majority of Eurostar customers who wish to travel with their bike.

What next?

The public pressure is building, over 9000 people have written to Eurostar via CTC, the national cycling charity. If you haven’t done this, you can write to Eurostar here.

This week, Andrew Gilligan, the Mayor’s Cycling Commission joined CTC representatives in a meeting with Eurostar to discuss the policy further. We hope this will all be enough to show Eurostar what a retrograde step this new cycle policy is.

We’ll keep you updated!

 More information

  • 1241 people took part in LCC’s Eurostar survey (November 2015)
  • 406 of these were LCC members (33%)
  •  1218 respondents said they has considered cycling in France or elsewhere in Europe (98%)
  • 1228 respondents said that if they were going to cycling in France or Europe; they would consider taking the Eurostar (99%)
  •  439 respondents have already travelled on Eurostar with their bike (35%) 

Of those 439 people who have travelled with bikes on Eurostar in the past:

  • 285 said that it was easy & convenient to travel with their bike on Eurostar (64%)
  • 37 said that it was inconvenient to travel with their bike on Eurostar (8%)
  • 113 people said it was slightly inconvenient to travel with their bike on Eurostar (26%) 

287 people left comments about their experience on travelling by Eurostar with their cycle before the rules changes.

637 people left comments about the new policy itself and how it would affect them