Cycle commuters be damned, South West Trains doesn't want you

The BikeBiz editor has just returned from a press trip to Switzerland. Swiss trains allow the carriage of bicycles - positively encourages it, in fact - and are famously punctual. Here in the UK, a leaked document from South West Trains reveals that the company believes the carriage of cycles should be further restricted because it can "have a significant impact on train service performance." In Switzerland, there's a truly integrated transport system, here it's a shambles. Shocking, really.
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"Whilst South West Trains recognises the benefits of an integrated transport system and the positive benefits of cycling, this has to be weighed up against the business needs of providing seating to passengers during peak times," says Michelle Kynaston, the Cycle Policy Project Manager for South West Trains, in her company's Cycle Policy Proposal.

"Please do not circulate the proposal to the media," urged Kynaston, aware of the fact that bad news spreads faster than good.

The devil is in the detail: cyclists - it appears from the leaked document - are not welcome. Want to take the train to London and then get to work the rest of the way by bike? Better do it after 10am, an extension to the already draconian cycle carriage restrictions. And South West Trains want to extend the geographical reach, too. Train/cycle commuters in Alton and Basingstoke can kiss their journeys good-bye.

A privatised rail network, now that's an idea that'll work, thought the Tories. Shame on Sir George Young, the Bicycling Baronet. He aided and abetted a policy that resulted in the mess we're in now.


Full document here:



CYCLE POLICY PROPOSAL

JUNE 2004

South West Trains Cycle Policy Proposal 1. Confidentiality

1.1. This information is provided so you have an opportunity to comment on the cycle policy proposal. Once we have completed the consultation process and finalised the cycle policy then the appropriate publication of the policy will take place. Please do not circulate the proposal to the media. 2. Correspondence

2.1. All correspondence relating to this document should be sent to

Michelle Kynaston

Cycle Policy Project Manager

Floor 6

41-45 Blackfriars Road

London

SE1 8NZ

Or by E – mail

Mkynaston@swtrains.co.uk

The deadline for a response is 21st July 2004 3. Introduction

3.1. South West Trains is currently reviewing the existing Cycle Policy during peak times, Monday to Friday. This is due to the increasing numbers of passengers using the train service during the peaks. South West Trains has seen an 11% increase in passenger numbers from 2002 to 2003. The Central London job market continues to grow with our passenger forecast during peak times increasing in line with employment demand. 3.2. Peak trains have always been busy but are getting busier and there is a conflict of interest between passenger seating and cycle carriage on many peak South West Trains’ services. The proposal seeks to address this and to ensure that expectations of cyclists and other passengers are clearly understood before they board the train. 3.3. The Cycle Policy review does not affect carriage of folding cycles that can be stowed as luggage, they can be carried on all South West Trains’ services or cycles left at stations prior to travel. 4. Background

4.1. On South West Trains’ services each modern type of train now maximises the number of seats available in each carriage. Cycle storage on trains during the peak periods is extremely limited with a conflict of interest for cyclists and passengers. The space provided for cycles on many of South West Trains’ services is dual purpose, providing extra seating during busy times. This can cause friction between passengers and cyclists as seating is adaptable to cycle storage

4.2. Cyclists joining and alighting busy trains can at times have a significant impact on train service performance. This can cause further delays to other train services due to the intensity of the service during the peak times. 4.3. Whilst South West Trains recognises the benefits of an integrated transport system and the positive benefits of cycling, this has to be weighed up against the business needs of providing seating to passengers during peak times. 4.4. The SRA has recently published their cycling policy which they consulted on and it can be accessed through their website www.sra.gov.uk. 5. Current Policy

5.1. The current South West Trains’ policy is: i) In the area bounded by Dorking, Reading, Woking and Guildford, cycles may not be carried towards London between 07.45 and 09.45 and leaving London between 16.30 and 19.30, Monday to Friday. ii) Reservations apply at all times on the West of England line. iii) Cycles are permitted on all other South West Trains’ services subject to space availability. We give guards the right to refuse to carry any further cycles where the available identified cycle spaces on the train are already taken. iv) Folding cycles that can be stowed as luggage can be carried on any South West Trains’ service at any time. 6. Cycle Policy Proposal

6.1. The cycle policy proposal is set out below, please refer to South West Trains’ maps Appendix A and B highlighting the proposal. i) Extend the area up to and including Alton and Basingstoke where cycles are not permitted for carriage on South West Trains’ services, Monday to Friday. The existing boundary stations of Dorking, Reading and Guildford remain. The area to include Guildford to Ascot branch line. ii) Extend the time cycles are not permitted for carriage on South West Trains’ services in the area stated above from start of service until 10.00 and between 16.30 and 19.30. This includes all services within the area in either direction. This will incorporate the majority of services on the network where there is a conflict of interest between cycle storage versus passenger seating. iii) Introduce free Cycle Reservations (outside the area in 6.1i) on mainline peak services. All mainline services leaving London Waterloo between 16.30 and 19.30 will require a cycle reservation and Appendix C lists the peak services that will require a cycle reservation iv) Only passengers with season tickets longer than weeklies can apply for a cycle reservation. The cycle season ticket will last the duration of the travel season ticket and will be issued through our Customer Service Centre at Southampton. Cycle season tickets and labelling for the cycles will be sent out as part of the reservation. v) It is intended that the cycle reservation scheme will run as a pilot with a full review prior to the introduction of the Winter Timetable in December. vi) Reservations apply at all times on the West of England line as now and there is no change to the current process of reserving cycles on these services. vii) Folding Cycles that can be stowed as luggage can be carried on any South West Trains service at any time. viii) Cycles are permitted free of charge on all other South West Trains’ services except where for reason of safety and comfort of our passengers, if the available identified cycle spaces on the train are already taken, the guard has the right to refuse to carry any further cycles on that train. 6.2. After the introduction of the cycle policy, any services on the network where there is significant conflict of interest over passenger seating and cycle storage, a train specific cycle ban may be introduced. Where this occurs consultation will take place with relevant local authorities and cycle user groups. 6.3. Clearly it is important in light of the cycle policy proposal that we continue to improve cycle storage and security at stations. This year so far additional cycle storage has been installed at Addlestone, Egham, Chertsey, Richmond, Norbiton and Surbiton. There are further plans for Basingstoke, Brookwood, Farnborough, Fleet and Woking. CCTV cameras are to be installed at Liss and Poole improving security. 6.4. Many improvements are made in partnership with local authorities and we are actively looking for similar schemes that will improve cycle facilities at our stations. 7. Consultation

7.1. We recognise this is a significant change to the existing cycle policy and are consulting over 100 people/organisations before concluding our views and implementation. The consultation includes cyclist user groups, MPs, rail passenger user groups and councils. 7.2 . We are also running a poster and leaflet campaign aimed at cyclists who carry their cycles on South West Trains’ services during June. All cyclists who submit their mailing details will be kept informed of the policy changes. Appendix D refers. 8. Implementation

8.1. Proposed implementation date is either the 6th or 13th September 2004.

8.2. Once the policy is finalised there will be a second poster and leaflet campaign advising cyclists of the changes. This will be supported by customer information systems, on train announcements and additional staff/managers’ presence on stations and trains.


SRA's consultation as seen through CTC's eyes:

http://www.ctc.org.uk/.../CycleTrain.aspx

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