In a melodramatc press press release from the CTC it's claimed that cyclists could be all but barred from using trains in southern England if Connex South Central, the existing rail operator in the area, retains the design of its new trains.
The lay out of new rolling stock leaves space for just two cycles per unit (two to four carriages) with this space to be shared with wheelchairs, pushchairs and possibly other baggage. The design of the new trains will cause conflict between passengers, warns CTC. Many services currently carry at least ten cycles.
Sue Hall, the CTC's Public Transport Campaigner said: ³If the new trains are not redesigned to include more cycle space and room for bulky baggage, cyclists and
others will be left on the platform".
The Government's Integrated Transport Policy endorses the Cycle Mark Code of Practice for
public transport operators and it asks rail companies to report on their success in meeting the objectives of the Code. One of the key aims is "to increase the number of bicycles carried on trains". The Code also asks rail operators to consult with cycling groups.
CTC has not been consulted by Connex. ³Reducing cycle carriage to two spaces means that existing passengers will be turned away," said Hall. "It also conflicts with the government¹s policy of increasing the number of cycles carried on trains²
Dave Witts, CTC representative in Brighton said: "The new design will mean a huge cut in bike spaces on trains. It will destroy leisure cycling in the region and hit cyclists who use the train as part of their journey to school or work².
CTC is urging rail users to write to the Rail Passengers¹ Committee (RPC) for Southern England in support of cycle carriage. The RPC is the statutory body which represents passengers. Rail/bike travellers could also protest to the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) which is soon to rule on
competing franchise bids from Connex and Govia for
the new South Central franchise in South East
Once agreed, the new franchise will last for up to
20 years during which time the SRA will have only
limited powers to alter franchise conditions. ³The
SRA can specify passenger benefits in
negotiations,² said Hall. ³That means it can
require train operators to provide a set amount of
space for cyclists".
A survey by CTC representatives and Bricycles, the
Brighton-based local cycle campaign group, has
found that at least ten bike spaces are currently
needed on each Connex train.
The RPC address is 3rd Floor Centric House,
390/391 Strand, London WC2R. The SRA is based at
55 Victoria Street, London SW1 OEU.