Bikes on a train
Last Saturday I went to the World Naked Bike Ride in London. I shall write about that shortly; before I got there I had to, for the first time, take my bike on a train. In fact by the end of the day I had taken my bike on four trains. I had a very mixed experience across the trains.
Train 1: My first train took me from Lincoln to Newark. I could not book my bike onto this train in advance, presumably because the route is considered to minor to apply that level of bureaucracy? As a result I was almost forced to miss my train thanks to a combination of selfish passengers and useless railway employees. The train was about half empty, and did have a section at one end with a designated bike space. I however was not permitted to use this space - Not because it was already filled with bikes, but because it was filled with passengers that perplexingly would not move down the train and take a seat! Rather than sort out these selfish persons my conductor protested at me for having the tenacity to take a bike on a half empty train and tried to insist I wait for the next. I refused though, citing the connection I had to make, and was finally permitted to take my bike onto the other end of the train, where there was not a place for bikes, and where I was decided in the way. So not a great start!
Train 2: Well this time it went much better. Within moments of my getting off the first train the lady on the station had identified I came with bike and gave me instructions to meet her at the far end of the platform when the train arrived. I did so was shown onto the last carriage which was a bike storage area including several bike hoops with built in devices to stop one’s bike falling over. I quickly secured my bike and proceeded to my seat. I was able to just as quickly free my bike and continue on my way once I arrived in London. Perfect service!
Train 3: Now familiar with how this particular type of train functioned with bikes I confirmed with a chap on the station I should proceed as before. Easy-peasy. Until I got to Newark where apparently they were utterly unaware they had a bike on board and seemed a bit irritated at the surprise. I wasn’t inconvenienced, but certainly wasn’t made to feel like a welcome bike using customer either.
Train 4: Back onto the no-bike-booking sort of train, and I find the allocated place for bikes full! Fortunately the conductor was at the end of a long day and couldn’t care less that I squeezed a third bike into a two bike slot. So no problems again.
All in all a mixed bag. The more major trains were extremely well equipped, and when the staff were on the ball provided an excellent service too. The more minor trains though seem underprepared both in provision for bikes and in how to treat cyclists.