Not on our trains! Greater Anglia’s cycle ‘consultation’

Reposted, as a catastrophic failure of my website has lost the original, posted at the beginning of Oct

crocyclistMy goodness. Greater Anglia’s ‘consultation’ on the future of passenger transport is stating pretty unequivocally that their intention is that they will no longer carry cycles on our trains.  Their reason? They cite “ the views of our customers as a whole, some of whom are beginning to voice understandable concerns about the safety of carrying large numbers of cycles at peak times”.

So,  some people on some trains have some concerns.  These would probably be the customers as a whole who would like to be able to sit down,  and are unable to do so because the company is providing both an inadequate number of seats in second class  AND an inadequate number of carriage spaces for bicycles? I have heard a lot of these complaining about the lack of space in second class – often on intercity London-Norwich trains without a bicycle in sight.

Greater Anglia could respond to this situation in a number of supportive and inventive ways. If they will persist in doing away with the good old Guard’s Van, how about removing all seats from one of their excess of first class carriages, to create a standing and cycle zone? But no, instead they appear to be  “hoping to stimulate behavioural change“. They are “conscious that we need to work with stakeholders to find alternative solutions to this problem.”  But not too hard, because they have already come up with a single option for the stakeholders to choose from. This is that they adopt:

“ a ‘corridor approach’ where a specific problem exists with cycles on trains, and to provide secure cycle parking and hire at both ends of the train journey so that customers are encouraged to either have a cycle at both stations, or to take advantage of cycle hire or possibly another sustainable mode of transport from their destination

In other words, Boris bikes – and no provision for any other than the routine business cyclist who can afford the hire, or to have a bicycle at both ends of a single train journey. This will go down a storm with those passengers who need to take a train to and from a rural destination, such as Wickham Market – where there IS no sustainable transport and no likelihood of cycle hire. Or join, say, an Ipswich to Cambridge train at a rural station en route? Or those who don’t have enough money to add an additional £3.80  for hire

So, then, here is option 1. What are the other options? Crikey – there are none, apart from  ”around the wider use of folding cycles, provided that these are used with sensitivity for the needs of other customers.” O fell phrase ‘issues around.’ What actually does it mean? And have we now got a future where folding bicycles are considered as less of a form of luggage than any other piece of luggage of the same size? It certainly sounds that way.

As you know, I have epilepsy which disables me from driving. I can only travel by public transport, bicycle or a combination of the two and have the cards to prove this. On a personal level I am deeply interested in how Greater Anglia plans to handle the carriage of my bicycle which has in my life the same status as a wheelchair in the life of other disabled persons.

One should have the strongest possible objection to any consultation offering a single outcome flagged up in advance  by the consultors. And particularly a company that is supposedly providing a public service.

I mean, I know the privatised rail companies have to make a profit for shareholders, but don’t forget the taxpayer is funding them and we really should expect them to be providing a public service. In 2012 the BBC reported that

Every time you travelled a mile on a train last year, the government effectively gave the train company an average of 7.5 pence. Or put it another way, assuming you are a taxpayer, you subsidised your own journey by an average of 7.5p per mile. That’s on top of buying the ticket of course.

You’d think, as we are paying for it – and if second-class, a relatively much higher proportion of our ticket for a much worse service –  we could be allowed to retain our bikes.

By the way, the consultation relies on one to download a pdf on a website and then make a  response in writing, or by email  – not that I am suggesting that this is in order to discourage you from responding. Just that its made it very much harder to identify GA’s intentions, and to respond to them.  No hotlinks for online reply are included anywhere – with the possible result that it might discourage all but the most determined.  I urge you to persevere despite this.

Indeed I urge anyone interested and/ worried to track down the consultation document for yourself via this link  and respond via email/snail mail to the addresses  below.The  end date is 1 November.

Cycle Strategy Responses
Greater Anglia
11th floor
One Stratford Place

Please clearly mark your response ‘Draft Cycle Strategy’

As another part of this consultation, Greater Anglia are planning on setting up a Cycle Forum to assist them in decisionmaking. I have already written to ask that I be included in this, and await their response with interest.

 That draft cycle strategy as written:

“Our policy in the short term continues to be that we will try to accommodate the carriage of cycles on trains free of charge wherever we possibly can. However, we have to balance this demand with the views of our customers as a whole, some of whom are beginning to voice understandable concerns about the safety of carrying large numbers of cycles at peak times. Our objective for the medium to long term is therefore to reduce the carriage of cycles on trains by stimulating behavioural change.

Many of our trains carrying commuters into London and regional centres such as Cambridge are becoming increasingly crowded, and it has already become necessary to impose restrictions on the carriage of non-folding cycles at these times. We will keep these restrictions under review, but as the use of our services continues to grow, we believe that we and future franchisees will have to consider a widening of the restrictions to cover other routes and services. Unfortunately, it is not a simple matter to provide additional carriages, and the priority will always be to provide seated or standing accommodation for passengers.

We are therefore conscious that we need to work with stakeholders to find alternative solutions to this problem. These need to be viable alternatives, rather than just more punitive restrictions.

We believe the options are to take a ‘corridor approach’ where a specific problem exists with cycles on trains, and to provide secure cycle parking and hire at both ends of the train journey so that customers are encouraged to either have a cycle at both stations, or to take advantage of cycle hire or possibly another sustainable mode of transport from their destination. This reflects the culture in force in many parts of Europe and will require considerable resolve on the part of our company and all of our stakeholders if it is to become the norm in this country.

There may also be options around wider use of folding cycles, provided that these are used with sensitivity for the needs of other customers. We appreciate that there needs to be a considerable amount of partnership working and goodwill from all parties to manage this difficult situation. We undertake to work with other train operators on shared sections of route to manage the problem consistently and as sympathetically as possible. We will also engage with local authorities and cycling groups to implement the ‘corridor’ approach where it is practical to do so”

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6 thoughts on “Not on our trains! Greater Anglia’s cycle ‘consultation’”

  1. To be fair there is not the capacity on train to carry them and it is a big costs as well and cycles on trains can cause problems and be a safety issue. The approach of providing space for cycles at stations is the most sensible approach

    1. I have to disagree, Bob – not least because it makes life even more difficult for people who can’t afford two bicycles. And as regards space – if you look at the intercity trains from London to Norwich (where bikes are carried in the Guard’s van), there is little space for secondclass passengers, and many many empty first class carriages. Its nothing to do with bikes – its just a situation where they want to cram ever more second class passengers onto insufficent rolling stock – and that’s because there has not been anything like enough investment in rolling stock in the last 30 years!

  2. New rail report ranks Eastern England some of the works in the UK. In spite of strong passenger number growth it has almost the lowest level of investment and oldest rolling stock, Customer satisfaction is low as is quality. It would be worse if it were not for some investment in the short London commuter lines

    Full report here:

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