Travelling by train with the Princess (my Pashley Princess Sovereign bicycle) has not been much fun of late. I travel an hour each-way every day on trains in the South West, not always at the same time, and there seem to be three varieties of bicycle provision:
- A separate carriage at the front or rear of the train with space for six bicycles (my favourite of the tree options – although it does often require running from one end of the platform to another).
- A ‘cubicle’ arrangement in between carriages – (see top photo below) – bikes are hung up by front wheel; there is space for one bike or two in each (my second choice, though it requires some strength and dexterity to get the Princess up on the hanging rail, and she will only fit in the space for one bike – if there is already a bike in the space for two the Princess won’t fit in as well. These cubicles are also often used by train staff as a place to deposit bags of rubbish, or by passengers to store luggage)
- An area of fold-up seats (see bottom photo below), where bicycles can be placed, but no way of securing the bicycle and priority is given to passengers, not to bikes (even if you have reserved a bicycle space it seems – needless to say my least favourite option).
I was travelling on a train providing the third option the other week, when a jolt of the train sent the Princess crashing to the ground, breaking her basket and throwing the mudguards out of alignment.
Just look at my poor Princess:
I complained (by tweet) to the train provider (First Great Western) but its response was that passengers are their priority – well I am a passenger, but a passenger with a bicycle!
We all know it is much more environmentally friendly to ‘let the train take the strain’ and cycle, but combining the two is not a pleasant task, and my poor Princess has been the one taking the strain while the train chugs along without any care whatsoever for her or any other bike.
Please train companies, rethink your policy for bicycles – the current provision is just not good enough.