South West Trains reverses bike ban after only 36 hours
On 10 July a statement appeared on the South West Trains website suggesting that all non-folding bikes would be banned throughout the Olympics and Paralympics. CTC understood that operational staff had no idea that the ban was coming until that morning.
After enquiries to South West Trains press office on 11 July CTC received the following statement:
"Green travel is important to us and we have a good track record for investing in facilities for cyclists using our network. However, we operate one of the busiest rail networks in Europe and space for cycles on our trains is limited. As a result, at peak times and on certain services we already have to restrict the carriage of non-folding bikes. This is a standard policy all year round. However, we welcome fully folded bikes on our trains at any time.
"Clearly, during the Olympics and Paralympics games our train services are going to be even busier. We will be carrying significant numbers of extra passengers on top of our normal levels of daily customers. We have considered carefully the position regarding cycles over the period of London 2012, including listening to feedback from our customers and our staff. Following that review, we have decided that our policy for non-folding and folding bicycles will remain unchanged throughout the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
"The only exception will be on 28 and 29 July, when we will be unable to carry bicycles on our services via Epsom. This is also the case with other train operators and will ensure we can carry the maximum number of passengers to see the cycle race at Box Hill."
We have considered carefully the position regarding cycles over the period of London 2012, including listening to feedback from our customers and our staff."
South West Trains spokesperson
It is a relief that South West Trains have reversed their decision to ban non-folding bikes. This move, made just 17 days before the Games, would have made life for cyclists trying to reach work, education - and even the Games themselves - much harder. CTC is glad to see that common sense has prevailed, but warns cyclists that trains will be busier during this period and they should avoid taking bikes on trains if possible.
CTC was first alerted to the possibility of additional restrictions on bikes at the end of May, in the form of a revised leaflet on cycle-rail restrictions.
Even those two months' notice made things tricky for some people. CTC member Sue Childs from Kent, is preparing to ride Land's End to John o'Groats and managed to book her tickets with cycle reservations for £35.50 well in advance. Then she discovered - long after booking - that Southeastern was banning non-folding bikes. This made it impossible for her to get to London with her bike, where she was to catch an onward train to Penzance to begin her trip.
She's now had to rebook, taking a longer, circuitous route along the south coast, rejoining her original train at Reading and leaving her £75 out of pocket. Southeastern have not committed to reimbursing her. Other cyclists with booked tickets and cycle reservations are likely to be affected.
CTC also heard from other members whose commutes would be disrupted by the bans - even though they don't go in or out of London!
The situation on other networks such as Southern and Southeastern has improved slightly since first announced, but will still greatly affect everyday travel.