In my blog post Bikes Trains and Automatons on the 18th I explained the trials and tribulations of booking a bike onto a train. Remember I said that I would take the chance of getting my bike on the train from Oban that they said had no bike space reservations left? Well it did come true, there were 6 bikes booked onto the train and, no I wasn’t allowed to take it apart and put it on as luggage and ‘if something went wrong I would be in for it’, said the conductor. So I had to leave my bike locked up in Oban till Monday when I could go back to pick it up. Poor thing – left alone in the rain.
I accept my own stupidity and complacency but what is annoying is 1) that the bike spaces were the only full thing on that train. There were plenty of empty seats and spare luggage space – why couldn’t I have slotted it in somewhere, even if I had to stand guard over it; 2) On my return journey with my bike on Monday there were 12 bike spaces on the train (so 6 on the last rain on a Fri evening in summer but 12 on a mid afternoon train on a Monday!); 3) I asked if I could book my bike onto the train in Dumfries yesterday and the ticket guy said, ‘No, it’s first come first served’! How’s someone to know what to do?
If we are to get people out of their cars and onto trains we must have a better system for bikes and more bike spaces – especially on busy routes in summer. Otherwise it will just put people off. Train companies only seem to organise their businesses around commuters and getting them to work, rather than holidaymakers or leisure users. Rant over!