These are WAGN’s answers to most of the questions we raised on the cycle ban, and its impact. Our questions are in plain text, and WAGN’s (unedited) responses are in bold.
2 May 2000
The Ban – and avoiding the need for it
Why is WAGN proposing to introduce a ban on cycle carriage on some trains?
To increase safety and the comfort of the majority of Customers on these trains.
What exactly will the conditions of the ban be?
Bikes will not be allowed on trains that are scheduled to arrive in Cambridge between 0745 and 0845 Monday to Friday. This includes trains that pass through Cambridge. It does not, however include the 0715 or 0745 from King’s Cross. Neither does it include Bank Holidays.
When will it take it effect?
From the introduction of the Summer timetable, which for the purposes of this restriction is Tuesday 30th May 2000.
Are bank holidays included in the ban? NO
Please list the trains that will be affected.
From Liverpool. St
From King’s Cross
From King’s Lynn
How will the ban be enforced?
Compliance will be reviewed and necessary action will be taken.
How will WAGN review the scheme – and seek feedback on the effectiveness of the alternatives proposed?
We shall constantly keep channels of communication with our customers open. This will be done in the form of Customer surgeries and our Customer relations department. We have thought through all of the issues as we see them. All new ideas will be considered.
What is your answer to the question “Why isn’t WAGN trying to accommodate these paying customers?” (is WAGN saying ‘there’s so much customer demand we’ve had to ban it’?)
The cycle hire scheme is one of the ways in which we are trying to provide the train service and still encourage cycling. This is the only scheme that was considered to meet the safety requirements and not discriminate against people dependant on where they live or their disposable income.
Why can’t WAGN simply run more trains to cater for the proven demand – of both cyclists and non-cyclists?
To give you a taste of the costs involved in running the extra trains it costs £350,000 a year to lease a train. In addition to this access charges would be levied. To multiply this figure by the 7 trains per day that are effected would give us expenses far in excess of the cost of the cycle hire scheme. We would, therefore, need to subsidise each of the people effected by the ban by approximately £20,000. Whilst we are prepared to spend money on increasing passenger safety and comfort the economics of this proposal simply don’t add up.
Why can’t WAGN just add an extra carriage to some of the trains that are affected – it’s obvious there’s a need for more capacity?
The carriages come in units of 4 and the answer above answers the questions.
Which of the affected trains are 4-car ones, and which are 8-car?
They are all 4 cars.
If short platforms or a reason for not adding extra carriages, and a train stops at a mixture of short and long platforms, why not just say ‘people getting off at Waterbeach please travel in the first four coaches’?
This is not the case.
Why can’t WAGN just put lots more tip-up seats on trains?
Why can’t WAGN put on a special ‘cycle only express’ in the morning and evening rush hours?
Please see answer above relating to costs versus benefits.
Why not have a guard’s van?
For one, because we don’t have Guards. The configurations for modern units which serve commuter routes are designed to give maximum space for customers to travel in comfort.
How will the ban be shown on pocket timetables and posters?
Upon their release within the next couple of weeks.
Consultation and Publicity
Did you consult existing regular customers on all the trains affected to find out whether the bike hire scheme would accommodate their needs?
We carried out a consultation on all of the trains at least twice during January and February. If e missed anybody then we were extremely unlucky. The response to the implementation of this scheme was very favourable amongst our Customers. Obviously this did not meet the need of every single one.
How regularly did you survey levels of use on existing trains – did you cover school time and holidays – summer and winter weather? Is the peak level of usage consistent throughout the year, or is it just occasional?
We have not surveyed the situation in the Summer but it has been regularly surveyed between December and March by ourselves and the HSE. These were done during term time and during recess.
How will cyclists affected by the ban be notified – and how can you guarantee that people – especially occasional travellers and those coming from further afield – won’t miss out on being notified?
Starting from Wednesday 3rd May we shall be doing leaflet drops on the effected trains. There are already posters at stations. We shall also advertise the restriction in our new timetable which will be out within the next couple of weeks. Press releases have also been released in the effected areas.
When will the ban be publicised?. How much time will this give customers to make alternative arrangements? See Above
If the news hadn’t been leaked at the start of April, or discovered by accident, when would the ban have been publicised? See above
Will you make sure that staff on National Rail Enquiries know about the specific details of the ban?
How will WAGN continue to publicise the cycle hire scheme to new customers – who discover that there is a bike ban?
Through staff presence and information at stations and in the timetables.
Will there be a warning period, during which the ban will not be strictly enforced?
We shall be giving plenty of notice to people and will enforce the ban from 30th May
The Impact of the Ban
Will the ban affect people getting off at stations before Cambridge, e.g. travelling from Ely to Waterbeach?
As the restriction is to cure problems on the train, rather than at Cambridge station, it will apply to this train.
Will the ban affect people travelling on trains passing through Cambridge?
The cycle hire scheme is no use for people changing trains at Cambridge, e.g. Waterbeach -> Cambridge ->Foxton.
There are not nearly so many bikes on the non-stop trains from Kings Cross to Cambridge – so why ban bikes on those? There are people who cycle to Kings Cross, and then cycle to their destination in or near Cambridge. On these trains, there’s also no issue of bikes being in the doorway and people wanting to get off at intermediate stations.
These bikes will be exempt from the ban.
What happens if someone uses a train that arrives at 7:30 am, say, but they miss a connection, or a train is cancelled. Are they going to have to wait an hour?
Strictly speaking yes. It is important to remember the reason behind this restriction. If the likelihood is that the following train will have an overcrowding issue as a result then the ban would have to be in force. Descretion of staff may be exercised under such circumstances and we would, as always do whatever possible to assist customers.
‘I have a choice of two trains, and I’ve never had any problems before. However, one of these would be affected by the ban. If everyone from that train travelled on the later one, a new problem would be created on that one.’
Cycle Hire – and related issues
How does the free cycle hire scheme work?
Register for the scheme and a bike will be prepared for you. Once it is ready you will be informed that it is ready for collection. You will need a deposit of £50 and a form of identification to collect the cycle. The cycle will be maintained by Cambridge pursuits at no expense to the customer.
The cycle hire place isn’t open at 7:45, when the first passengers affected by the ban will arrive in Cambridge. Are there plans to open it earlier?
No need. You can keep the bike as long as you need it.
I work part-time, so I don’t have a season ticket – which means I don’t qualify for a free bike.
No. Everybody on these trains qualifies, even if they don’t use a bike now.
I don’t want to have to collect a bike from the hire shop every day, or adjust saddle and handlebar heights daily. Can I keep it for a longer period, parking it overnight at the racks at Cambridge station?
Yes. See answer above
A bike is a very personal item, chosen for its fit – hiring one is not like hiring a cab. Some have said they don’t want hire bikes, they want their own bikes.
We have, in my opinion, come up with a reasonable alternative for people who use bikes. This will not satisfy everybody. This is unfortunate but it’s something that we are stuck with. Safety remains our priority.
‘I need a very large bike – 25″ frame – will the hire shop have bikes that big – and will it have a pannier rack?’
The answer to the second question is yes. I shall make enquiries regarding the 25″ frame.
What long-term guarantees will WAGN give that the free cycles service won’t be cancelled sometime in the future?
In the long term we would hope to be able to come up with a better solution. As the costs for the scheme are mainly start up ones we would have no incentive to end it. As an end to such a scheme would drive people towards other modes of transport which could be bad for business and the environment.
Are hire bikes available for school-children on these trains?
Will WAGN consider lending folding bikes to people who don’t have huge distances to cycle, to avoid the need for cycle parking at train stations at either end of the train journey?
This is something that we would consider. We would need to establish numbers and costs involved prior to committing to anything. Good idea!
If the proposed changes to the cycle hire scheme are not implemented by 28 May, will the ban be deferred?
They will be implemented.
Cycle parking and security
WAGN is assuming that many customers will use free hire bikes, and park them over night and at weekends at Cambridge station. The cycle parking stands at Cambridge are once again full (and we believe that this is genuine demand – so a cull would only be a sort-term solution.) WAGN may be creating a demand for 50 to 100 extra spaces, or more. How much extra cycle parking will be installed in Cambridge to cater for this extra demand?
Up to 300 extra spaces will be installed as part of the station redevelopment package. This is not going to be an immediate solution and we will need to manage the cycle storage at Cambridge very closely.
How much extra cycle parking will be installed at other WAGN stations for customers affected by the ban?
We are looking to improve cycle storage facilities at all stations. We shall be speaking with local councils and interest groups regarding joint funding, in order to speed up this process.
I cycle from home to the nearest station. There is nowhere to park my bike there, and it’s an unstaffed station. If I used the cycle hire facility I’d be worried about my bike being parked there all day every day.
Cycles parked at Meldreth station, for example, have been vandalised. This is not an unusual occurence – we have been told about several examples, e.g. ‘I only left my bike at Meldreth station once. That was the only occasion on which I have had a bicycle vandalised in the entire time I’ve lived in or around Cambridge.’
If proposed addition of cycle parking at local stations is not implemented by 28 May, will the ban be deferred?
No. The addition will not be implemented by this date. The ban will come in on this date.