Politicians have criticised ScotRail for going back on a pledge to greatly increase cycle carriage on trains between central Scotland and Inverness/Aberdeen.
ScotRail services between Edinburgh/Glasgow and Inverness/Aberdeen are currently operated by Class 170 trains, with each three-car set having capacity for four bikes. The 170s are due to be replaced next summer by 26 refurbished InterCity 125 trains.
In 2015 ScotRail operator Abellio said the 125s would have capacity for 20 cycles. But the operator now says they will have just eight spaces,with six only available for passengers making end-to-end journeys. These will be located within the power cars at either end of the train. The two remaining spaces will be within the carriages.
Liam Kerr, the Conservative MSP for North East Scotland, said ScotRail’s rethink appeared to be based on the “inevitable delays from getting pushbikes on and off the ends of the train”.
Transport minister Hunza Yousaf said ScotRail was responsible for the day-to-day operation of train fleets. “ScotRail is currently finalising the layout and operational aspects of the trains. I encourage it to listen carefully to what members have said about end-to-end provision and issues at intermediate stops… and to look for innovative solutions.”
A ScotRail spokesman said it was “in the process of reviewing the approach of six spaces in the power car areas”. He added that train frequencies were being improved on lines such as the Highland main line. “With all our trains providing cycle spaces, and with many more trains running, there will be much more opportunity than now to take a bike on the train.”
ScotRail has invested in Bike & Go cycle hire facilities at 11 stations and delivered 1,200 extra bike parking spaces at stations, he added.