UK Bike/Rail Restrictions

UK Bikes on Trains Restrictions

UK Bike/Rail RestrictionsThis page lists UK bike restrictions on rail and preserved rail. Folding bikes travel free and without restriction on all train services unless stated.
See Bikes on Trains Travel Guide. If you have any official or unofficial information on cycle carriage, please share it with us by e-mail.

Want to book a bicycle with an advance train ticket? Visit Virgin Trains East Coast.

We are grateful to the Association of Train Operating Companies, local
authorities, individual cycle users and the Cyclists Touring Club for information on
cycle carriage. railmap35

Please note

  • For cycling routes near stations, visit Sustrans. Enter the station POSTCODE in the blue box then click FIND. The resulting MAP
    shows routes close to the station.
  • Barry Doe’s web pages are full of information, but hard to follow. His excellent National Rail map [PDF] gives a clear picture of all UK operators and routes.

Primary Rail Operators

Arriva Trains Wales

Routes: Cardiff to West Wales, Manchester & Holyhead, plus local services throughout Wales
Folding bikes: tick No restrictions   Tandems and tricycles: cross Not permitted

Long-distance services carry two bicycles, and reservations are free, and strongly recommended. On local services, bicycles are carried free without booking, but conveyed ‘subject to space being available’. The Valley lines out of Cardiff (and soon Newport too) are extremely useful for getting through the hilly and congested areas if heading for the wide open spaces. Bikes are generally welcomed, but restrictions apply Monday to Saturday at peak times, so do check before travelling.

Tel: 0845 6061 660   Reservations: 0870 9000 773

email: customer.relations@arrivatrainswales.co.uk



Caledonian Sleeper


Routes:
London Euston overnight to Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Inverness and Fort William
Folding bikes: tick No restrictions   Tandems and tricycles: cross Not permitted

Now operated by Serco as a separate franchise to Scotrail, the cycle policy is rather interesting and free, which is very refreshing. Caledonian Sleeper guarantees that it will effectively guarantee the carriage of one bicycle per passenger, so the old limit of six bikes no longer applies. They do this by using road transport for bikes at busy times, but we’re not sure how often this happens, and as you have to drop the bike at the departure station in advance, how does it work with unstaffed stations. At Rannoch? The courier only appears to pick up and drop bikes at Euston, Watford Junction, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Inverness and Fort William. Bikes travelling by road have to be in a bag, but Caldeonian supply these… nice touch. Time will tell how the service works, and if you’ve experienced the road courier service, do let us know.
Bicycles must be booked before noon the day before departure, and this is when Caledonian Sleeper will tell you whether you can just hop on the train, or will have to bag the bike for the courier service. You can take your chances and just turn up with a bike, but we wouldn’t advise that, especially on the Inverness route, which is still limited to three bikes, because it also carries shellfish down to London.
Folders should be welcome on all services without booking. It’s also worth mentioning that a couple of very compact folding bikes, such as Bromptons, will squeeze into a double sleeper berth on the old trains if you don’t want to put your bike in the luggage area. Not sure if this will still apply when the new trains arrive.

Tel: 0330 060 0500



c2c

Routes: London Fenchurch Street – Southend Central & Shoeburyness
Folding bikes: tick Enclosed in a container or case   Tandems and tricycles: cross Not permitted

c2c welcome bicycles free of charge on services where they can be accommodated safely. Bicycles are not permitted on weekday services that arrive in London between 07.15 and 09.45 or leave London between 16.30 and 18.40. If you plan to travel with a group of three or more cycles, please contact the Helpline.

Tel: 0845 601 4873


Chiltern

Routes: London Marylebone – Aylesbury, Oxford & Birmingham Snow Hill
Folding bikes: tick No restrictions   Tandems and tricycles:  Unknown

Bicycles are welcome on Chiltern Railways but not on trains arriving at London Marylebone or Birmingham Snow Hill between 07.45 and 10.00 or departing London Marylebone or Birmingham Snow Hill between 16.30 and 19.30 Monday to Friday. Restrictions apply to all intermediate journeys. At other times, bicycles are carried free and without reservation. Chiltern has inherited the loco-hauled trains used by sister company Wrexham & Shropshire. These have room for around ten bikes, and they are now operating up to six of the Birmingham Moor Street to London Marylebone fast services. Does this mean Chiltern will relax its tough peak hour bike policy for these trains? We’re not sure, but do let us know.

Tel: 08456 005 165 (information & telesales)


CrossCountry Trains

Routes: South & Southwest England to Northern England & East Scotland, and South Wales to the East Midlands & East Anglia
Folding bikes: tick No restrictions   Tandems and tricycles:  Unknown

Virgin used to allow up to four bikes in the Voyager trains, but under CrossCountry the trains have been altered by replacing the shop in Coach D with a smaller cycle storage area, while the old cycle area has become a secure cupboard for the onboard trolley. Although there is actually room for three, CrossCountry will only take reservations for up to TWO BIKES. You might be able to wangle a third aboard if the Train Manager is sympathetic, but no guarantees, and of course, he may finish his shift before you reach your destination… Latest news is of cyclists being aggressively expelled from trains, even where they have reservations, so do beware. CrossCountry also uses a few older (and much better) High Speed trains, which have much more generous bicycle space, although in theory the strict rules still apply. CrossCountry services are often the key to longer journeys, and hard to avoid without a diversion via London.
A free advance reservation is ‘compulsory for most journeys’ says CrossCountry vaguely. Free? In happier days, the reservation system was largely ignored by Virgin staff on the ground, but that is not the case with the reduced space! Good news is that all services (except road coach links) carry bikes, space permitting of course. When buying tickets and making your bike reservation, use the East Coast web site, or visit a staffed station. It’s certainly advisable to make the bicycle booking when you buy your ticket.

Tel: 0844 811 0124
email: customer.relations@crosscountrytrains.co.uk


Docklands Light Railway (London)

Routes: Light rail network throughout East London
Folding bikes: tick Enclosed in a container or case   Tandems and tricycles:  Unknown

Until recently only folding bikes were carried on the DLR, and they needed to be ‘totally enclosed in a cover’, but following a successful trial, full-size bikes are now allowed on the DLR system throughout weekends and Bank Holidays, and before 07.30, between 09.30 and 16.00 and after 19.00 Monday to Friday.

Tel: 0207 222 1234
email: cservice@dlr.co.uk


East Midland Trains

Routes: London St Pancras – East Midlands & South Yorkshire, plus Liverpool – Norwich cross country and East Midlands local routes
Folding bikes: tick Unrestricted, but bikes must fit into luggage racks  Tandems and tricycles:  Unknown

Former Midland Mainline services have been rebranded East Midland Mainline (Route 1) and cycle carriage rules tightened up. The company says space is limited to two bikes per train, which it isn’t because EMT has inherited High Speed and Meridian trains, which are relatively well off for bicycle space. In any event, you must now book in advance, and we’re told that bookings will not be accepted into or out of London at peak times.
Minor services inherited from Central have been rebranded East Midland Connect. On the primary route from Liverpool to Norwich (Route 2), reservations used to be compulsory, but have been made ‘advisable’. Given that bike space is still usually a nominal two per train, this is a bit odd. We suggest that if you are travelling a short distance, don’t book, but if you need to travel a long way on a specific train, it would certainly be advisable . On other minor routes (Routes 3 and 4), trains carry only two bikes and reservations are not possible, so bikes are carried on a first-come, first-served basis, with priority going to disabled passengers.

Interesting point: EMT very fairly points out that it is unable to carry tandems or tricycles on the East Midlands Connect services, but claims they cannot be squeezed into Mainline services too and from London. Not strictly true, because the High Speed Train is quite roomy enough.

To make a reservation, you are supposed to download a Cycle Booking Form, fill it in and email it back to cycle.reservations@eastmidlandstrains.co.uk

Reservations: 08457 125 678 or visit the website, download the booking form and email it to cycle.reservation@eastmidlandstrains.co.uk (unnecessarily cumbersome, surely?)


Eurostar

Routes: London St Pancras International, Stratford International, Ebbsfleet International & Ashford International to Paris, Brussels, Lille, Avignon*
Folding bikes: tick Officially folders must be bagged, but very compact machines will fit in the overhead racks. However, Eurostar has been making life more difficult for regular commuters lately by forcing them to put their bikes through the full security procedure.
Tandems and tricycles: cross Not permitted, but tandems which split or break apart are. If you can reduce your tandem to 200cm long and pack it as a single item it goes as a bike.

If you don’t mind dismantling your bike and squeezing it into a bag measuring 120cm x 90cm (the accepted dimension for large luggage items on most European long distance trains) a conventional bike can be packed down and carried on Eurostar. If you prefer to keep the wheels on and your hands clean, you’ll have to pay £20 and travel with the Eurodespatch service. The maximum length is 200cm and since 2008 Eurostar has operated a booking system (opening 10 days prior to departure) to put the bike on the same train as you (only London to Paris & Brussels). Bikes should be checked-in at least 60 minutes before departure.

Tips – nip up the platform with your receipt at journey’s end, and you can claim the bike back directly off the train when it is unloaded, to save the time, worry and hassle of getting it back from the Eurodespatch office. An on-spec service (delivery within 24 hours) is also available for the same price, and serves Lille, but there’s no guarantee when, or indeed if, your bicycle will turn up.
A useful tip if travelling further afield by high speed train is to change at Lille Europe if possible, rather than Paris, as many long-distance services stop in Lille, some offer a cross-platform change.
Cycling between termini in Paris is rather like London – about the same distances, and with similar traffic levels. It can potentially save you an hour on your journey, enabling you to catch the preceding (hourly) TGV service.
The Eurodespatch service is not available from Ebbsfleet, Ashford, Stratford, and le Frethun, Avignon, and other less-used/seasonal stopping points.
If you’re planning to use Eurostar to cross the Channel, it might make more sense to travel by bike or domestic rail services to Folkestone and catch a Channel Tunnel Shuttle train instead. Sadly, you can’t drive on yourself like the motorists, but the arrangement is that you are collected from your local hotel, and the bikes are placed in a trailer, while you and your luggage ride in a minibus. Up to six bikes can be taken, but you do have to give 48 hours notice. www.eurotunnel.com/uk/traveller-info/vehicles/bicycles/

Tel: 08705 850850 or 0844 822 5822
email: new.comments@eurostar.co.uk?

Eurostar ‘Bikes on Trains’ page


Govia Thameslink

Routes: Brighton – Gatwick Airport – London – Luton Airport Parkway – Bedford (cross-London services), London (Kings Cross & Moorgate) – Stevenage, Cambridge, Peterborough & Kings Lynn
Folding bikes: tick At peak times, big-wheeled folding bikes are banned, and smaller folding bikes may need to be folded at the ticket barriers  Tandems and tricycles: cross Not permitted

Govia Thameslink (confusingly branded as Great Northern Thameslink or even Thameslink & Great Northern) is now forcing folding bike customers to fold their bikes before passing through the barriers (see also attempts by Southern and Southeastern). The company claims that this has always been the rule, but it has not previously been enforced. Owners of Bromptons and other folding bikes that can be wheeled should bear in mind that they ARE allowed to wheel the bike on its rollers. Whatever the man on the barrier might say, there is no actually compulsion to CARRY the bike. And in June 2015, we head that the company had tightened the screw by banning folding bikes with wheels bigger than 20-inches. This currently only applies during peak-hours, and may be patchily enforced.

Thameslink is happy to carry bicycles between Bedford and Luton Airport Parkway inclusive at any time. Elsewhere, the company cannot carry bicycles on trains travelling towards London (if boarding at or south of Stevenage or Hertford North) that arrive in London stations between 07.00 and 10.00 (Monday-Friday), or on trains travelling away from London departing from Zone 1 London stations between 16.00 and 19.00 (Mon-Fri). Cyclists are asked to use the section of the train with tip-up seats, identified by a cycle symbol on the outside of the train. Interestingly, Thameslink does not mention that bikes are now banned in and out of Brighton at peak times (see Southern entry). Other restrictions:

  • Monday to Friday on services departing Waterbeach or Ely towards Cambridge between 07.45 and 08.45 Monday-Friday
  • Any time between Drayton Park & Moorgate (this doesn’t apply to folding bikes of 20-inch wheels or below)

Tel: 0845 026 4700


Great Western

Routes: London Paddington – Bristol, Reading, Oxford, South Wales, the Cotswolds & the West, plus local West Country services
Folding bikes: tick Folding bikes are now defined as having wheels with a maximum size of 18-inches. Larger wheeled folders will be treated as normal bikes
Tandems and tricycles: tick Tandems  are permitted on High Speed Trains only

LONG-DISTANCE SERVICES: Advance reservations are free, and can be made up to two hours before the train begins its journey, or before 18.00 the day before if the train starts before 10.00. Reservations are no longer obligatory except on services arriving in London between 07.00 and 10.00 or departing between 15.00 and 19.00. Up to six bicycles (still including one tandem on most services) can be accommodated in Coach ‘A’ of High Speed Trains and a few more can also be accommodated in the adjacent power car, if the guard is feeling friendly. Watch out for other trains though. On the Cotswold line from Hereford to Malvern, Worcester, Oxford and London, High Speed Trains are as other services, but most trains are Class 180 units with three vertical bike spaces on ceiling hooks at each end of the train. Yes, that’s a total of six, but watch out for the many short platforms on this line, which may leave you and your bike out of the station. The guard should be able to advise.
At weekends, the Class 180s are usually under maintenance, so the commuter-orientated Thames Turbos (below) may be substituted.

COMMUTER SERVICES: On local services formerly operated by Thames Trains, bike carriage is much less restrictive, and bikes can generally be carried on all off-peak services in the carriage vestibules, provided they do not inconvenience other customers. However, on Mondays to Fridays, bicycles may not be carried on trains advertised to arrive at London Paddington between 07.45 and 09.45 or to depart Paddington between 16.30 and 19.00.

OTHER REGIONAL SERVICES: On local trains in the West Country, up to two bikes can be carried on a first come, first served basis, space permitting. On most long-distance services – generally trains linking Penzance, Cardiff, Bristol, Swindon, Southampton, Portsmouth and Brighton, bike space is limited to two per train, so reservation makes sense, particularly between Cardiff, Bristol and Brighton, and pretty well anywhere in the peak summer season. Bikes CAN be carried on these services without a reservation provided the guard can find space, but if a bike with a reservation is then brought on board, you may be evicted. On other local trains, bicycles cannot be booked, and are conveyed ‘subject to space being available’. The ‘two bikes per train’ rule is interpreted differently by individual guards – some will allow much larger numbers, even on peak services, but some will not. Groups of cyclists should treat rush-hour or peak summer season trains with caution.
Locomotive-hauled trains with proper guard’s vans operated until recently from Cardiff to Brighton and Bristol to Weymouth, but these have now been withdrawn.

Tel: 08457 000 125


First Trans-Pennine Express

Routes: Manchester Airport – North East, North West and Scotland
Folding bikes: tick No restrictions   Tandems and tricycles: cross Not permitted

Space is very restricted, with only two bikes allowed on most trains, but they travel free. Reservations must be made at least 24 hours in advance, but according to a recent traveller, one of the two spaces is now first-come, first-served, so you can only book one bike per train. The Scottish services are best avoided with or without a bike as they can be very busy

Tel: 0845 600 1674   Reservations: 0845 600 1674


Grand Central Trains

Routes:  Kings Cross – Yorkshire, Hartlepool, Sunderland
Folding bikes: tick No restrictions   Tandems and tricycles:  tick Tandems welcome

‘Cyclists are welcome!’ says Grand Central. The fleet of High Speed Trains carries ‘up to’ six bikes in the ‘country end’ power car, free, and without the need to book.
Short platforms at Eaglescliffe, Thirsk and Hartlepool mean that guards will put cycles to and from these destinations at the London end of the train. Surely that means the true capacity is 12 bikes? Well, yes it does, and the same applies to all other HST’s, but no operators seem willing to exploit the space in these trains to the full. Grand Central has also gone to some lengths to say it welcomes tandems and trailers (not exceeding one metre in any dimension), but not tricycles, although they could probably be persuaded if you have a fairly compact machine. All indicative of the ‘can do’ attitude of this open access operator. Cheap fares, oodles of legroom, and plenty of bike space to York and the Yorkshire coast.

Tel: 0845 603 4852


Greater Anglia

London (Liverpool Street) – Norwich & Harwich International, plus local services in Norfolk, Suffolk & Cambridgeshire
Folding bikes: tick No restrictions   Tandems and tricycles: tick Despite some confusion, it seems tandems are STILL carried on express trains from London to Norwich, plus Lowestoft/Peterborough, and the busy Norwich to Cambridge services, which seems too generous and might be a mistake!

Up to four cycles are accepted on local trains, and the spacious long-distance trains accept six. Free reservations are obligatory on services to London, and reservations are also ‘encouraged’ on local trains. Ticket holders receive the benefit of the NXEA/ETA cycle recovery scheme – if your cycle breaks down or is stolen in Norfolk, Suffolk or Cambridgeshire, both you and the bike (subject to availability, of course) will be recovered and taken to the nearest station. Note that Anglia runs its own reservation line from a call-centre in Norwich, so your call should be routed to someone who really knows the network.


London (Liverpool Street) – Southend Victoria, Colchester & Ipswich
Folding bikes: tick No restrictions   Tandems and tricycles: tick Tandems are permitted

Bicycles are welcome free of charge on non-inter city services where they can be accommodated safely. At busy times, on trains arriving in London (either Liverpool Street or Stratford) between 07.45 and 09.45 and departing London or Stratford between 16.30 and 18.30 Monday to Friday, bicycles are banned. However, bicycles may be carried at any time north and east of Shenfield. (Note that NXEA’s publicity appears to show that bicycles are banned both inbound and outbound in both the morning and evening peaks, but this is not so. The ban is only with the commuter flow.)


London (Liverpool Street) – Stansted Airport
Folding bikes: tick Folding cycles must be fully folded and contained in a ‘protective carrying case’. In practise, a light cover will do, but be discreet!  Tandems and tricycles: cross Not permitted

Cycles are not conveyed at any time, unless they have been flat-packed for air travel.


London (Liverpool Street) – Stevenage, Cambridge, Peterborough & Kings Lynn
Folding bikes: tick No restrictions   Tandems and tricycles: tick Tandems are permitted

Cycles are conveyed free of charge where they can be accommodated safely. However, they are banned:

  • Monday to Friday on services south of Broxbourne or Shenfield that terminate in Liverpool Street or Stratford between 07.45 and 09.45 or depart Liverpool Street or Stratford between 16.30 and 18.30. These restrictions apply to all intermediate journeys.
  • Monday to Friday on services between Audley End, Cambridge and Ely in either direction between 07.45 and 08.45

(Note that the ban is only with the commuter flow.)

Tel: 0845 600 7245   Reservations: 08700 40 90 90
email: customer.relations@onerailway.com


Heathrow Connect (London)

London Paddington – local stations to Heathrow Airport

Folding bikes: tick No restrictions   Tandems and tricycles: cross Not permitted

Heathrow Connect was one of the best kept cycling secrets in west London, and apparently kept that way by first Great Western, which bans bikes on its own trains throughout the busy morning and evening periods on the same route. Cycles were allowed on Heathrow Connect trains in and out of Paddington without exception, but the company has now sadly fallen into line with other operators, limiting bikes to one per train, and imposed peak time restrictions on weekdays: bicycles are banned from trains departing Heathrow between 07.30 and 10.00, or departing Paddington between 16.30 and 19.00. Still, bicycles are carried free, and these trains are probably your best option if travelling with a bike on the West London corridor.

Tel: 0845 678 6975
email: queries@heathrowconnect.com


Heathrow Express (London)

London Paddington – fast to Heathrow Airport
Folding bikes: tick Plenty of luggage space for folding bikes. Compact machines fit the overhead racks   Tandems and tricycles: cross Not permitted

As with Heathrow Connect, there is now officially only one cycle space on Heathrow Express trains, even though the company formally allowed a minimum of three. At peak times (departing Heathrow between 07.30 and 10.00, or departing Paddington between 16.30 and 19.00), bicycles are banned anyway.
As the single space will generally be offered to cyclists catching flights, anyone else will be lucky to get on board even off-peak, unless they have a folder of course. The folding bike rules are tighter than the national conditions, the maximum dimension being limited to length+breadth+height = not more than 158cm. If your bike exceeds this (and in theory at least, even the most compact bike will), or you need help putting it on, or it takes up a seat, your bike will liable to a full passenger fare. Heathrow Express also makes a point of banning all ‘powered vehicles’ except wheelchairs. Cyclists not travelling onwards by air may use the service to travel free between terminals at the airport, subject to space being available for airline passengers.
This can be useful, because it’s cheaper to take a local train to Feltham (for Terminal 4) or Hayes & Harlington (other Terminals) cycle into the airport, and use Heathrow Express/Connect if you need to transfer to another terminal. Taxis and other motorised traffic are now allowed in the long cycle tunnel from the Hayes direction, but they’ll just have to queue, won’t they?

Tel: 0845 600 1515
email: queries.hex@airexp.co.uk


Hull Trains

London Kings Cross – Grantham, Doncaster, Selby, Brough & Hull
Folding bikes: tick No Restrictions   Tandems and tricycles: cross Not permitted

Hull Trains welcomes cycles on all services, but it seems a free advance reservation is now obligatory. Up to two bicycles can be carried in the Train Manager’s Office in coach ‘D’. Please ring 0845 710 222 (08.00-22.00 Monday to Friday, 08.00-18.30 Weekends and Bank Holidays) to book.
Tel: 08450 710 222


Island Line

Isle of Wight only
Folding bikes: tick No Restrictions   Tandems and tricycles: cross Not permitted

The smallest, friendliest and most reliable railway company in the UK, Island Line operates aging Underground trains on the Isle of Wight. Up to four bicycles may be carried free and without booking at the Shanklin end of all trains, subject to the discretion of the guard. In practice, the number carried off-peak is sometimes much greater. What a shame the line doesn’t still go through to Ventnor… very useful for cyclists.

Tel: 0845 6000 650
email: comments@island-line.co.uk


London Midland

London Euston – Birmingham, Birmingham – Liverpool and local services in the West Midlands
Folding bikes: tick No Restrictions   Tandems and tricycles: crossNot permitted

Cycles are carried free of charge on all off-peak services. Restrictions apply Monday to Friday 07.00 to 09.59 on services to London Euston and 16.00 to 18.59 on services leaving London. The company also ‘recommends’ avoiding Birmingham at peak times, which is very sensible advice.
Tel: 0844 811 0133


London Overground

Rail services in and around London

Folding bikes: tick Must be folded and should not exceed two metres in length. It is advisable to cover the bike whilst on the Underground, although this is not a regulation   Tandems and tricycles: cross Not permitted

Bicycles are allowed on the overground trains free of charge and without reservation, but peak time restrictions apply: Bicycles are banned on Monday to Friday on trains arriving at London Euston between 07.00 to 10.00 and departing from Euston between 16.00 and 19.00.

On services between Willesden Junction and Gospel Oak, and Gospel Oak to Blackhorse Road, bicycles are banned in either direction from 08.00 to 10.00 and 16.30 and 18.30, Monday to Friday.

Between Highbury & Islington and West Croydon, bicycles are banned in either direction from 07.00 to 10.00 and 16.00 to 19.00, Monday to Friday.


London Underground

On the Underground, bicycles are completely banned between 07.30 and 09.30 and 16.00 to 19.00 Monday to Friday. Outside these peak hours, bicycles are permitted anywhere on the surface or near-surface lines:

Circle, District, East London, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan

Bicycles are also permitted on surface sections of the following deep tube lines outside the central London area:
Bakerloo Line Queen’s Park – Harrow & Wealdstone (only against the flow of commuter traffic – north in the morning, and south in the evening peak)

Central Line White City – West Ruislip or Ealing Broadway . Leyton – Epping . Woodford – Newbury Park

Jubilee Line Finchley Road – Stanmore . Canning Town – Stratford

Northern Line Edgware – Colindale . Hendon Central – Golders Green . East Finchley – High Barnet or Mill Hill East

Piccadilly Line Barons Court – Hounslow West or Uxbridge . Oakwood – Cockfosters

Bicycles must not be taken on Victoria Line or Waterloo & City escalators.

Tel: 0207 222 1234 (Underground) or 0845 6014867 (Overground


Merseyrail

Routes: Local Northern and Wirral line services around Liverpool
Folding bikes: tick No restrictions   Tandems and tricycles: Unknown

Cycles are carried free at any time, space permitting, and the company reserves the right to impose restrictions at busy times.Tel: 0151 702 2071


Northern Rail

Routes: Local services in Northern England
Folding bikes: tick No restrictions   Tandems and tricycles:  Unknown

Northern is working hard to encourage people to cycle to and from its nearly 500 stations. A Cycling England grant is helping to improve station cycle parking at stations in the Leeds City region, and elsewhere Northern is working with local authorities to improve provision. Leeds Station now has a ‘Cycle Point’ offering Dutch style bike parking, hire, repair and cycle shop. Northern have developed a Cycle Strategy in consultation with cyclists and others and a Cycle Users Forum meets several times a year, bringing together cyclists representatives, the rail company, local authorities and other bodies. Despite very limited space (officially two bikes per train), there are no bike bans on services and staff are encouraged to be helpful, though there may still be problems on peak hour trains. Folded bikes are not restricted.
To locate the CYCLE FACILITIES AT NORTHERN STATIONS go to www.northernrail.org
Click on Travel Tools, select Look up Station, Type in name of station and click Look Up. Copy the POSTCODE for later. Click on Transport Links tab – CYCLE PARKING is listed here.

Tel: 0845 000 0125   Reservations: 0845 600 8008
email: customer.relations@northernrail.org


Southeastern

London – Kent & South East England
Folding bikes: tick No restrictions, but despite having relaxed its stance on folding bikes on the platforms, the rules have just been tightened up again. According to SouthEastern, cyclists were abusing the rules by riding their folding bikes on the platform (even, it is claimed, falling onto the tracks) and putting the bikes unfolded onto busy trains. This all seems very unlikely when such issues are almost unknown elsewhere, but the result is that folding bikes must now (technically at least) be carried at all times on stations operated by SouthEastern, although the only place this rule is seriously enforced seems to be Cannon Street.
There is, however, a glimmer of hope. If, for whatever reason, you find it impossible to carry your bike any distance, SouthEastern says its Customer Services department will issue you with a letter that can be shown to platform staff. The intention is that you will then be allowed to wheel your bike to the train, but whether this works in practise remains to be seen. The anti-folder rule and exemption letter are still very new, so some staff may cheerfully wave folders through, others will demand they be carried, and a very small number will know that exemptions are allowed. A recipe for chaos… do keep us informed.
Tandems and tricycles: cross Not permitted

Cycles are carried free, without booking, on all services except those timed to arrive in London between 07.00 – 09.59, or to depart 16.00 – 18.59 Monday to Friday. These rules apply on any part of the journey, with the following exceptions: Subject to space, you may board peak time trains beyond Gillingham, Otford or Tonbridge, if travelling to stations in East Sussex or Kent.Tel: 0845 000 2222


ScotRail

Routes: Most services in Scotland  (but no longer for London Euston – Scotland sleepers – see Caledonian Sleepers)
Folding bikes: tick Enclosed in a container or case   Tandems and tricycles: cross Not permitted

Cycles are carried free on all ScotRail services, but space is limited (ScotRail aim to provide between two and eight spaces per train), so free reservations are essential on long-distance trains to Inverness, Aberdeen, Stranraer, the West Highlands and Far North.
In the summer months for the last few years, a special road vehicle has carried cycles between Inverness and Wick/Thurso, but with an increase to four daily trains, and at least four bike spaces on each, this is no longer required.
We’re glad to see that the reservation number (08457 550033) takes you through to a real Scottish person in Fort William who actually knows the network and can see passing trains out of the window. First ScotRail has also teamed up with the ETA to provide a ‘get you home’ service. If you are unable to complete your journey by bike, due to an accident, vandalism or irreparable breakdown, you will be taken to your destination, the nearest Scotrail station, or the nearest Scottish city, if it’s late in the day. The service does not apply to the islands! All you need to do is phone 08000 717 212 and give details of your valid rail ticket. From February 2009, Scotrail became the first UK railway company to officially sanction the carriage of electric bicycles on its trains. Great news in a hilly country.

Tel: 0845 601 5929   Reservations: 08457 550033
email: scotrailenquiries@firstgroup.com


Southern (now incorporating Gatwick Express)

London – Surrey, Sussex & South East England
Folding bikes: tickFolding bikes are carried free of charge without restriction, but since 2006, folding bikes ‘bigger than a Brompton’ have occasionally been turned away and Brompton owners forced to fold their bikes at the barrier and carry them to the train, particularly at London Bridge, Victoria and Brighton. This tough line appeared to have been dropped, but folding bike owners have reported continuing problems at London Bridge. If you find yourself a victim of this discriminatory policy, please report it to Southern in writing, giving the time, station, and if possible the name of the offending employee.
Tandems and tricycles: Unknown

Who’d travel on Southern for ANY reason in 2016? Be very cautious with a bicycle because rsome routes are seeing daily multiple cancellations with patchy road replacement, and serious overcrowding on other services.
A ‘limited number’ of cycles are carried free on all services except on trains due to arrive into London Victoria, London Bridge or Brighton between 07.00 and 10.00, or due to depart from London stations or Brighton between 1600 and 1900 on Mondays to Fridays. Reservations for cycles are not required. Former Gatwick Express services now run through to Brighton, and have considerable luggage capacity, but are bound by the same peak hour rules as other Southern services.

Tel: 08451 272920


South West Trains

London Waterloo – South West London and South West England
Folding bikes: tick May be carried at any time, free of charge, provided they ‘can be stowed as luggage’.   Tandems and tricycles:  Unknown

Formerly a haven for cyclists, the South West Trains area has seen increasing restrictions as new trains are introduced. Currently space is limited on trains from Waterloo to Salisbury/Bristol, Exeter and Plymouth; between Reading and Brighton; between Totton and Romsey (via Southampton); and on most Waterloo to Southampton trains. Reservations are obligatory on all but some Waterloo to Southampton trains, but booking is now free. Note, however, that if you have booked a cheap ‘Megatrain’ ticket to Southampton or Portsmouth, you will not be entitled to travel with a bicycle, even on a train where bicycles are welcome. A few other specifics:

LONDON SUBURBAN AREA: Bicycles are banned from boarding trains trains due to arrive at Waterloo from 07.15 to 10.00, or depart Waterloo between 16.45 and 19.00 Monday to Friday (note the slightly extended ban duration) within the suburban area bounded by Dorking, Reading, Hook, Alton and Guildford (previously Woking). A ‘nod and a wink’ policy existed for many years on the ground, and bikes were usually allowed aboard at the guard’s discretion, but this no longer seems to be the case. There is now also an OUTWARD BOUND ban on trains leaving Clapham Junction between 07.45 and 09.00 Monday-Friday, as far as Clapham Junction, Strawberry Hill and Feltham.

LONDON-SALISBURY-EXETER: Bike space can vary from two upwards, and as a rule, longer trains on longer journeys will convey more bicycles.

LONDON-GUILDFORD-PORTSMOUTH & LONDON-SOUTHAMPTON-WEYMOUTH: These lines are now worked by Class 444 (5 car) and Class 450 (4 car) trains. The Class 444 offers six cycle spaces situated in the 3rd and 4th coaches (counting from 1st class, which is almost always at the London end), and a 10-coach train will have double the space. Cycles must not be placed in the disabled space, in the door areas (except by agreement with the guard), or behind the drivers door. The shorter Class 450 officially offers only two bike spaces, but with careful positioning three or fours can be squeezed in, and the guard will usually allow this, provided the gangways are not obstructed. The only exceptions to these rules are when travelling too or from three stations with short platforms – Bedhampton (London-bound platform), Beaulieu Road and Shawford. Cycles should usually be placed in the first door of the 2nd carriage in the direction of travel.

South West Trains Cycle Restrictions Map (PDF)

Tel:    Reservations: 0845 6000 650

email: customerrelations@swtrains.co.uk


Translink (Northern Ireland)

Routes: RAIL & BUS SERVICES – Belfast – Larne, Bangor, Derry & Cross-border Enterprise trains to Dublin

Folding bikes: tick No restrictions

Tandems and tricycles: cross and motorised bicycles are not permitted on trains or road coaches.

Hold on… why has Northern Ireland been given a fully integrated bus and rail system while we have to put up with all this privatisation nonsense on the mainland? You’ll have to ask your MP.
Bikes are carried on all long-distance Goldline Express Coaches, and all trains, but not before 09.30 on weekdays. Trains generally carry four bicycles, while coaches carry two. Bikes travel free on all services, but note that the reservation system has been discontinued, so carriage is on a strictly, first-come first-served basis. Large groups are advised to contact Translink in advance and discuss their requirements. A template for all UK transport operators surely?

Tel: 028 9066 6630

Irish Rail (Republic of Ireland)

Routes: Key routes south and west from Dublin, plus cross-border Enterprise trains to Belfast

Folding bikes: tick No restrictions

Tandems and tricycles: cross Not clear, but better assume not

Not quite the right section we know, but if travelling south of the border, please bear in mind that after the gradual change from carriages with guards vans to multiple unit trains, problems for cyclists have built up in the Republic of Ireland. The rules have become more onerous, and have been widely ignored, to the anger of rush-hour passengers, causing so many problems that Irish Rail has cracked down on offenders. For full details, see the bikes on trains page for campaign group Rail Users Ireland.


Valley Lines

(Now part of Arriva Trains Wales – see above)


Virgin Trains

Routes: London Euston – West Midlands, North Wales, North West England & Scotland

Folding bikes: tick No restrictions   Tandems and tricycles:  Unknown

West Coast services carry up to four bikes, with a free compulsory advance reservation system.

TIP: To escape Virgin’s blood pressure-raising automated telephone booking system, say ‘agent’ at the start. This, we’re told, should put you through to a nice lady in Scotland.

TIP: When making a cycle booking, use 08719774222 (10p/min), which costs a modest 10p/minute. Save time by saying ‘help with something else’ when the automated woman starts talking. But be warned – if you’re adding a cycle reservation to an existing ticket, the telephone staff will give you a reference number to present at the station. A cyclist has recently been turned away at Euston trying to board with the number only. Staff may insist on a bicycle reservation ticket… More than their jobs are worth, etc etc.

TIP: Voyager and Pendolino trains carry a yellow rectangle at the opposite end to the bike space. This is usually at the ‘country’ (ie furthest from London) end of the train.

Tel: 0845 000 8000
email: customer.relations@virgintrains.co.uk


Virgin Trains East Coast
Formerly East Coast

Routes: London Kings Cross – Yorkshire – North East England – Scotland
Folding bikes: tick No restrictions   Tandems and tricycles: tickWe think tandems are permitted (subject to length restrictions), and tricycles seem to be unofficially tolerated

Since privatisation in the 1990s, the East Coast has been a relatively good route for bicycle carriage. But as the route has now been taken over by Virgin, which has rather stricter rules on the rival West Coast route, we will have to see what happens. For now, this is the situation: Advance reservations are compulsory and spaces must be reserved at least 24 hours before departure. A maximum of five cycles can be carried on HSTs and electric trains, but note that tandems count as two cycles. Bike carriage arrangements are a bit unusual. To reduce luggage in the carriages, London-Edinburgh luggage is carried in the London-end power car, with three bikes in the country-end guard’s compartment and a further two bikes in the country-end power car.

East Coast’s online cycle reservation scheme is unique, and if you book your tickets through Virgin Trains East Coast, you get a cycle reservation with any other operators your ticket might cover (assuming the trains in question allow cycle reservations).

Tel: 08457 225 225


 

Private & Preserved Railways

National Rail Network Interchange Symbol indicates an interchange with the National Rail network.  If you’re interested in small railways, you might be interested in our magazine Miniature Railway!

Bluebell Railway

Routes: National Rail Network InterchangeEast Grinstead – Sheffield Park 
Gauge:
Standard – South from East Grinstead into delightful countryside

Folding bikes: tick No restrictions
Tandems and tricycles:  Unknown

All trains have a guard’s van, and up to 20 bicycles (or smaller numbers of tandems or tricycles) can be conveyed without booking, at a charge of 50p (return) or 30p (single). Larger parties (up to 60 bikes) can be carried in a parcels van by special arrangement.

Tel: 01825 720800


 

Bodmin & Wenford Railway

Routes:National Rail Network InterchangeBodmin Parkway – Bodmin – Boscarne Junction
Gauge:
Standard – the cross-platform connection at Bodmin Parkway eliminates a long hard climb into Bodmin

Folding bikes: tick No restrictions   Tandems and tricycles:  Unknown

The Bodmin & Wenford Railway welcomes cyclists. Carriage of bikes, tandems and trikes is free of charge, although large parties are advised to book in advance.

Tel: 01208 73666


Bure Valley Railway

Routes:National Rail Network InterchangeWroxham – Aylsham
Gauge:
15 inch

Folding bikes: tick No restrictions   Tandems and tricycles:  Unknown

Like most of the narrow gauge railways, the Bure Valley is very accommodating. Trains carry up to four bicycles or two wheelchairs, but extra vans are available and can be marshalled into trains as required. Parties with up to 10 or 15 bikes can be carried with advance notice. If you’re travelling without a bike, you can hire one at Wroxham or Aylsham, ride beside the line on the traffic-free railway path and take the train back. There is a flat-rate cycle carriage fee of £2 per bike.

Tel: 01263 733858


East Kent

Routes:National Rail Network InterchangeShepherdswell – Eythorne 
Gauge:
Standard – a delightful ride from nowhere to nowhere

Folding bikes: tick No restrictions   Tandems and tricycles:  Unknown

All trains have a guard’s van, and bicycles of all kinds are carried without booking or restrictions.

Tel: 01303 893320


 

Ecclesbourne Valley

Routes: National Rail Network InterchangeDuffield – Idridgehay – Wirksworth – Ravenstor (for High Peak Trail)
Gauge:
Standard – a delightful ride from national metals into the Peaks

Folding bikes: tick No restrictions   Tandems and tricycles:  Unknown

Now the line is reopened throughout, there is a passenger interchange at Duffield with National Rail services. The Ecclesbourne Valley provides a very useful link, bypassing a busy stretch of the B5023, and connecting the planned Derby City / Little Eaton cycleway with the High Peak Trail (Route 54). All trains have guard’s vans and bicycles and tandems are carried free of charge, although large groups are advised to book in advance. Tricycles are carried, provided they are able to pass through standard double guards van doors

Tel: 01629 823076


Ffestiniog Railway

Routes: Portmadog – National Rail Network InterchangeMinfford – National Rail Network InterchangeBlaenau Ffestiniog
Gauge: 2 foot – the Minfford – Blaenau Ffestiniog link is useful, saving a 600 foot climb in the easterly direction!

Folding bikes: tick Carried without charge at the discretion of the guard   Tandems and tricycles:  Unknown

Bicycles are subject to a charge of £2.50 per journey. Parties of six or more, or those with tandems or tricycles are advised to phone in advance to allow time for an extra baggage van to be included in the train.

Tel: :01766 516000   Ffestiniog Travel: 01766 512400


 

Isle of Man Steam Railway

Routes: Douglas-Port Erin
Gauge: 3 foot

Folding bikes: tick No restrictions   Tandems and tricycles:  Unknown

A delightful line. Bicycles are carried free of charge where a guard’s van is present and if there isn’t one and the train is ‘not too busy’ you can put the bicycle in the carriage anyway. A lesson there for Virgin et al.

Tel: 01624 663366


 

Isle of Wight Steam Railway

Routes:National Rail Network InterchangeSmallbrook Junction – Wooton
Gauge: Standard – cross-platform connection with Island Line services

Folding bikes: tick No restrictions   Tandems and tricycles:  Unknown

If used in conjunction with the Ryde to Shanklin Island Line trains, the Isle of Wight Steam Railway can be quite useful, avoiding hills and/or busy roads. No charge and no restrictions on bicycles, tricycles and tandems.

Tel: 01983 882204


Keighley & Worth Valley Railway

Routes:National Rail Network InterchangeKeighley – Haworth – Oxenhope
Gauge:
Standard – This fairly short line is much more useful than it might appear, avoiding some unpleasant roads and steep gradients around Keighley.

Folding bikes: tick No restrictions   Tandems and tricycles:  Unknown

All trains have a guard’s van, and bicycles are carried free without booking or restrictions. Larger groups are advised to book in advance for a second guard’s van to be added to the train.

Tel: 01535 645214


Kent & East Sussex

Routes: Tenterden – Bodiam
Gauge:
Standard – helpfully avoiding the busy A28

Folding bikes: tick No restrictions   Tandems and tricycles:  Unknown

All trains have a guard’s van, and up to six bicycles are carried without booking or restrictions. Larger groups should book in advance. At present it’s not a hugely useful link, but if (or rather when) the line is reopened into Robertsbridge, there will be a cross-platform connection to London or Hastings

Tel: 01580 765155


Midland Railway – Butterley

Routes: Hammersmith-Butterley-Swanwick
Gauge:
Standard gauge

Folding bikes: tick No restrictions   Tandems and tricycles: tick No known restrictions

The Midland Railway-Butterley is welcoming to bikes on trains, although for safety reasons the main museum site requires cyclists to dismount. If ever a railway ran from nowhere to nowhere, this is it, but you might have a reason to take your bike with you. The trains are traditional 1950’s carriages with a guard’s and luggage compartment so there is more than enough room for cyclists, and staff are usually happy to help you getting on and off.

Tel: 01773 747674


Nene Valley Railway

Routes:National Rail Network InterchangePeterborough-Wansford
Gauge: Standard gauge – gets you through the dreadful urban sprawl of Peterborough

Folding bikes: tick No restrictions   Tandems and tricycles:  Unknown

With the Peterborough ‘town’ terminus a kilometre from the national station, and a ‘country’ end in the middle of nowhere, the practical use for this line looks limited. But it carries you halfway to Oundle, and into open country past a network of unpleasant roundabouts.

Tel: 01780 784444


North Yorkshire Moors Railway

Routes:National Rail Network InterchangeWhitby –National Rail Network InterchangeGrosmont -Pickering
Gauge:
Standard – the new services too and from Whitby are especially useful

Folding bikes: tick No restrictions   Tandems and tricycles:  tick No restrictions

All trains have a guard’s van, but space varies, so tandems, tricycles or cycling groups are advised to book in advance. Individual cyclists can usually turn up and travel, subject to space being available. The cycle carriage fee is £2 per day, covering any amount of travel, and tandems seem to travel for that price too.
Could it be better? You bet it could. The line needs to reopen onward from Pickering to Malton… you’d then be able to put your bike on a train in York, and get off in the heart of the North Yorkshire Moors.

Tel: 01751 473799


 

Paignton & Dartmouth Steam Railway

Routes:National Rail Network InterchangePaignton – Kingswear (for Dartmouth ferry)
Gauge:
Standard gauge – very useful for cyclists, saving a major climb and some busy roads

Folding bikes: tick No restrictions   Tandems and tricycles:  Unknown

According to the Paignton & Dartmouth Railway, all trains have a converted coach as a guard’s van with a capacity of up to 100 bikes, so tricycles and tandems are welcome and booking is never required. The cycle carriage fee is £1 for each single journey.

Tel: 01803 555872


Ravenglass & Eskdale

Routes:National Rail Network InterchangeRavenglass – Dalegarth
Gauge: 15 inch – the good news is that the railway carries you to the foot of the Hardknot Pass. The bad news? It doesn’t carry you over it.

Folding bikes: tick No restrictions   Tandems and tricycles: cross Not permitted

Bicycles are carried free, but space is very limited. However, open and closed wagons are available for the carriage of bicycles and can be marshalled into a train as required, but it’s a good idea to give 24 hours notice, particularly for larger groups. Bicycles are carried at the owner’s risk.

Tel: 01229 717171
email: rer@netcomuk.co.uk


Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch

Routes: Hythe – New Romney – Dungeness
Gauge:
15 inch – duplicates a Sustrans route, but very useful for getting too and from leisure rides on the marshes

Folding bikes: tick No restrictions   Tandems and tricycles: cross Not permitted

Although a guard’s van is available on all trains, space is limited, with priority being given to passengers luggage, so pre-booking is essential. If booked in advance, up to four bikes can be carried in a second guard’s van by arrangement at a nominal 50p per bike. Folding bikes are carried free.

Tel: 01797 362353


 

Severn Valley Railway

Routes: National Rail Network InterchangeKidderminster Town – Bridgnorth
Gauge:
Standard – a great way of getting clear of the Birmingham conurbation into open country

Folding bikes: tick No restrictions   Tandems and tricycles:  Unknown

All trains have guard’s vans, but space varies and other luggage is given priority, so cycle space cannot be guaranteed. There are no booking arrangements – just turn up and enquire. Cycle carriage costs £1 per journey. Groups of up to three or more cyclists can be catered for, but tandems and tricycles are not carried.

Tel: 01299 403816


Swanage Railway

Routes: Norden (park & ride) – Corfe Castle – Swanage 
Gauge:
Standard – a scenic ride, but not yet very useful strategically

Folding bikes: tick No restrictions   Tandems and tricycles:  Unknown

When the railway reopens through to Wareham (expected early 2017), this line will be extremely helpful, bypassing a busy and dangerous stretch of the A351. As it stands, the Swanage Railway only avoids the quieter and more scenic easterly stretch. All trains have a guard’s van and bicycles and tandems are carried free of charge, although very large groups are advised to book space in advance. Tricycles are carried, provided they are able to pass through standard double guard’s van doors.

Tel: 01929 425800


 

Talyllyn Railway

Routes:National Rail Network InterchangeTywyn – Abergynolwyn 
Gauge:
2 foot 3 inches – no strategic value, but a pleasant enough ride

Folding bikes: tick No restrictions   Tandems and tricycles:  Best to make enquiries in advance!

The Talyllyn aims to provide space for up to two bicycles, but it’s a good idea to inform the railway of your intentions in advance, so that a suitable van can be provided, especially if traveling in a group. The fare is £4.00 for bicycles and £6 for tandems per single journey. Tricycles are not specifically banned, but space is very limited.

Tel: 01654 710472


Watercress Line

Routes:National Rail Network InterchangeAlton – New Alresford 
Gauge:
Standard Gauge – duplicates a Sustrans route, and doesn’t really go anywhere, but a pleasant enough ride

Folding bikes: tick No restrictions   Tandems and tricycles:  Unknown

All trains have guard’s vans (of various sizes!), so bikes, trikes and tandems are carried free and without restriction. Large parties are advised to book. Not a very useful link – if only it still linked through to Winchester!

Tel: 01962 733810


 

Welsh Highland Railway (Caernarfon)

Routes: Caernarfon-Beddgelert-Porthmadog National Rail Network Interchange 
Gauge:
2 foot – now links Caernarfon with Beddgelert and Porthmadog

Folding bikes: tick No restrictions   Tandems and tricycles:  Unknown

As the first part of the journey to Dinas runs beside an excellent cycle path, it’s not yet as useful as it might seem, but with full reopening, the Welsh Highland now provides all sorts of travel opportunities for cyclists and an onward link to main line services at Porthmadog. Bicycles are carried for a flat fare of £2.50 per bike, and the company provides plenty of accommodation, putting a special wagon onto most trains.

Tel: 01643 704996


West Somerset Railway

Routes: Bishop’s Lydeard – Minehead
Gauge: Standard gauge – this line would be much more useful if services were restored over the last five miles from Bishop’s Lydeard to Taunton on the National Rail network. These are the busiest roads, unfortunately.

Folding bikes: tick No restrictions   Tandems and tricycles:  Unknown

Bicycles are not carried on the Taunton – Bishop’s Lydeard bus link. The West Somerset Railway carries bicycles, tricycles and tandems for a set fare of £1.00. There are no booking requirements, except for large parties.

Tel: 01643 704996
email: info@west-somerset-railway.co.uk