This article was published in 2019, in Magazine 143.
Greater Anglia must do more to encourage and provide for cyclists using their trains
FOUR BIKES PER TRAIN ON RURAL SERVICES
Greater Anglia are now stricter about the number of full-sized bikes on their rural trains. While they’ve had a bike limit in theory, it’s been at the discretion of the train guard as to whether any more bikes can be let on. From 1 March 2019, there has been a strict four-bike limit. Folding bikes remain unaffected – you can take these on any service as long as they are folded and fit into the luggage space. Greater Anglia were handing out cards to bike users throughout February announcing this, and including the following information:
- Greater Anglia can carry up to 4 bicycles per train on rural services. The spaces are allocated on a first-come first-served basis.
- On trains to Cambridge, owing to high passenger demand, full-size bikes will not be permitted on trains arriving at Cambridge between 07.45 to 08.45 in the morning (Monday to Friday).
- Folding bikes can be carried on all trains at all times, without a reservation, provided they are folded and can be safely stowed in the luggage racks.
On the face of it, it seems like a backwards step as it sounds as though they are discouraging cyclists from taking train services. However, two reasons for the change have been given. The first is to guarantee space for wheelchair users. Previously, in order to be guaranteed a space, a wheelchair user would need to book a reservation in advance. The second reason is that there are more passengers travelling on the Cambridge-Norwich line, particularly with the opening of Cambridge North. With more passengers, there are more bikes being taken on trains.
The silver lining is that this limit should be temporary. Greater Anglia are currently testing new trains that will allow up to six full-sized bikes to be carried. They say these new trains are due to be rolled out at the end of 2019.
Further information can be found at: greateranglia.co.uk/cycling
A Cyclist’s Experience
Without rolling out either more cycle-carrying trains or a bike reservation system, the ‘4 bikes per train’ policy is turning into a nightmare.
I came back from Bury St Edmunds recently and the first train I could have taken was full of bikes already (there were four, on a train with six carriages and so many empty seats!), the second train had space for my bike only, and there were five other cyclists forced to wait for a third hour (hourly trains only) to fight between them for any of the next four spaces. I’ve emailed Greater Anglia about it – it seems remarkably short-sighted to roll out these limits without bike reservation tickets. I suspect I’ll have to abandon cycling and get back in the car for everyday commuting.
SECURITY AT CAMBRIDGE STATION CYCLE PARKS
Following several thefts at Cambridge North in which thieves were able to unbolt the Sheffield stands from the tarmac, we were pleased to see Greater Anglia fitting all the bolts with more secure shearnuts (right) in February. However, we still regularly receive reports of theft from both stations and people who are put off from using them by concerns of theft and personal safety.
We’d like to see Greater Anglia working with the police to tackle these issues and ensure those travelling by train can park their cycles securely.