New rolling stock to replace High Speed Train fleet announced - with potential for good cycle carriage
The current fleet of 'High Speed Trains' operate on the East Coast main line between London and the north of Scotland, the longer distance London-East Anglia routes and the Great Western routes. They came into service almost 40 years ago and work on developing a replacement started several years ago.
Hitachi have now received an £4.5bn order for almost 600 vehicles, comprising 92 trains, in a variety of different formations. These will start work in 2017 on the Great Western route and in 2018 on the East Coast routes.
When CTC was first made aware of this project several years ago we contacted the Department for Transport and lobbied to ensure that these new trains would have equivalent - or better - space for cycles to be carried. We have since heard that because these new trains will use carriages that are 26 metres long (most UK carriages are only 23m long), there will be a little more space at carriage ends, some of which may be able to be used for cycle spaces. The proposed design - which can be seen in the animation below - shows 8 cycle spaces at either end of two carriages.
These new trains will have to serve different purposes: in some cases they perform the role of regional trains, serving commuters between Bath and Bristol, say, but also bearing longer distance travellers from Bristol all the way to London.
While commuters can generally be catered for with better cycle parking at stations, those making longer distance trips - on holiday for instance - often require to carry their bikes with them. This means the trains need a mixture of dedicated, reservable spaces and flexible space for off-peak services where the trains are performing the role of a regional train.
Finally, hanging hooks (such as those in the screenshot above) are a much more space-efficient way to store bikes but can lead to problems if poorly designed. They also preclude carriage of tandems - which can currently be carried in the guard vans of the East Coast fleet - and other non-standard types of cycle. The final decision on the internal layout of the trains is likely to be made by the operators and CTC will continue to put pressure to ensure that the space will be designed well.