Scotrail set to halve storage space for bikes

Storage capacity for bikes on ScotRail`s long distance services is to drop from four to two spaces

ScotRail looks set to halve bike storage capacity on long distance services, writes Patrick McDonnell. Currently four bikes are allowed on each train, but once the operator rolls out its new high speed train (HST) fleet this will drop to two.

Franchise holder Abellio plans to start introducing the HST fleet from 2018 onwards. The 26-train fleet, which will comprise 54 power cars and 121 carriages, are actually refurbished 40 year-old InterCity 125 High Speed Trains (HST) first introduced in England in 1977.

The rail operator is considering storage for six further bikes in the two power cars at each end of the train.
This would bring the total bike capacity on each train to eight, still way below the 20 spaces Abellio had previously indicated in talks with the Scottish government in 2015.

A ScotRail spokeswoman says: “We have to balance a number of demands when planning space in our trains and want to accommodate bikes as far as possible. We’re exploring a number of options in advance of the HST fleet arriving in Scotland.

“There is provision for three bikes in each power car, which will require operational consideration due to platform lengths and station dwell times for the power car access.”

The reductions in bike space on trains goes against “a joined-up vision for cycling in Scotland”, says sustainable transport charity Sustrans.

A Sustrans spokesman says: “Ensuring there are more spaces for bikes on trains, not less, is key to encouraging passengers to use trains as a way of travelling actively and sustainably over longer journeys without having to rely on a car.

“Whilst bike parking at stations has improved tremendously over the past few years, many commuters not only want to cycle to the station to catch a train, but are keen to get on their bike again at their destination.

“Scotland has a shared ambition for 10% of journeys to be made by bike by 2020, and this is a step in the wrong direction. The opportunity to carry a bike on public transport is key to ensuring sustainable travel is a viable option for travellers for their everyday journeys.”

Spokes, the Scottish cycling campaign group, says: “Storage space for cycles could be created by converting some redundant toilets into bike storage, instead of them being locked and just transporting air.

“Nor are we convinced about the ‘end-to-end’ power-car bike restrictions. Virgin Trains currently operates some (eight-coach) HST trains up to Inverness, and although their bike compartment is in coach ‘A’ rather than the power car, it is is nonetheless locked.

“Since bikes have to be pre-booked, the guard knows in advance when it needs to be unlocked, and this works fine with Virgin. Surely ScotRail is capable of doing similar, at least at main stations such as Perth?”

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