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 email.

We strongly advise booking your bicycle in advance online if you can. You can currently do this with Great Western, South Western Railway, Trans-Pennine Express, Hull Trains and C2C. Virgin East Coast claims it will bring back bicycle bookings and we will update the information if they do. Most operators can sell tickets in any geographical area, so you don’t need to book the tickets with the company that operates the route your travelling on, but you MUST book a seat to reserve space for a bike.

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

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 gives a clear picture of all UK operators and routes.

Primary Rail Operators

Abellio Greater Anglia

Routes: London (Liverpool Street) – Norwich & Harwich International, plus local services in Norfolk, Suffolk & Cambridgeshire
Online Bookings: cross
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, Ipswich to Cambridge/Peterborough, Norwich to Cambridge, plus Liverpool Street to Southend, Colchester, Ipswich, Hertford, Cambridge & Kings Lynn. These are not all big trains, and space cannot be booked on most of them, so do check in advance.

Up to four cycles are accepted on local trains, and the spacious long-distance trains accept six, but AGA have very sensibly given guards discretion to take more if space permits. Free reservations are obligatory on services to London, but are no longer available on local trains. Ticket holders receive the benefit of the AGA/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
Online Bookings: cross
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 AGA’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
Online Bookings: cross
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
Online Bookings: cross
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: 0345 600 7245   Reservations: 08700 40 90 90

Arriva Trains Wales

Routes: Cardiff to West Wales, Manchester & Holyhead, plus local services throughout Wales
Online Bookings: cross
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 around Cardiff and the Valleys, bicycles are carried free without booking, but conveyed ‘subject to space being available’. The Valley lines out of Cardiff (and Newport too, eventually) 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 Friday arriving in Cardiff between 07.30 and 09.30 and departing 16.00 to 18.00 and (unusually) on Saturday at slightly different times: arriving in Cardiff between 10.00 and 16.00 and departing between 15.00 and 18.00.

Tel: 0333 311 202   Reservations: 0870 9000 773


Caledonian Sleeper

Routes: London Euston overnight to Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Inverness and Fort William
Online Bookings: cross Not required for booking bicycles on the sleeper
Folding bikes: tick No restrictions
Tandems and tricycles: cross Not permitted

The cycle policy on the sleepers is rather interesting and free, which is very refreshing. Caledonian Sleeper no longer guarantees the carriage of one bicycle per passenger, with excess bikes being transported by road courier, but it doesn’t seem to put any limit on the number of pre-booked bicycles, so it seems this policy continues. For non-booked bikes, it’s all very hit-and-miss: ‘typically 3 to 6 bikes’ (the number carried too and from Inverness has been reduced to 3 for years, because of an arrangement to carry shellfish south to London). So the message is book in advance.
Quite how the road transport works in practise, we’re not sure. You have to drop the bike at the departure station in advance, but how does this 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 Caledonian 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. 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


Routes: London Fenchurch Street – Southend Central & Shoeburyness
Online Bookings: tick
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, but reservations are not possible. Bicycles are not permitted on weekday services that arrive in London between 07.14 and 09.30 or leave London between 16.30 and 18.34. If you plan to travel with a group of three or more cycles, please contact the Helpline.

Tel: 0345 601 4873


Routes: London Marylebone – Aylesbury, Oxford, Birmingham Snow Hill & Kidderminster
Online Bookings: cross
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. These restrictions apply to all intermediate stations and 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: 0345 600 5165 (information & telesales)

CrossCountry Trains

Routes: South & Southwest England to Northern England & East Scotland, and South Wales to the East Midlands & East Anglia
Online Bookings: cross
Folding bikes: tick No restrictions
Tandems and tricycles:  cross Not permitted

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, but CrossCountry will only take reservations for up to two, leaving one free on a turn-up-and-go basis. CrossCountry has a bit of a history of aggressively expelling cyclists from trains, even where they have reservations, so do beware. CrossCountry also uses a few older (and much better) High Speed trains, which have very 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.
TIP: Avoid CrossCountry altogether if you possibly can. Their fares are so ludicrously high it’s usually cheaper to travel via London

Tel: 0844 811 0124

East Midland Trains

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

Reservations are compulsory on long-distance services, but not available on local trains. The company says space is limited to two bikes per train, which isn’t entirely accurate 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, but there does not seem to be an actual ban.

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 have to apply to a staffed station, use the telephone number below, or use the EMT website, but that seems to require some sort of log-in. No idea how that works.

Reservations: 08457 125 678 or try


Routes: London St Pancras International, Stratford International, Ebbsfleet International & Ashford International to Paris, Brussels, Lille, Avignon*
Online Bookings: tick For Eurostar services only
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.

Tel: 08705 850850 or 0844 822 5822

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
Online Bookings: cross
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
Online Bookings: tick
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

Hull Trains

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

Hull Trains welcomes cycles on all services, and the free advance reservation is no longer obligatory, but is still recommended. 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: 0345 0710 222

Trans-Pennine Express

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

Like many railway companies, TPE has had to bring in bike restrictions to square the circle between increased traffic and limited rolling stock availability (made much worse by the current government cancelling electrification). Bicycles are now banned – presumably network-wide and only on weekdays – from 07.00 to 09.00 and 16.00 to 19.00. Space is very restricted at other times, with only two bikes allowed on most trains, but they travel free. Reservations are recommended, and must be made at least 24 hours in advance, but according to a recent traveller, one of the two spaces is now treated as 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 & Reservations: 0345 600 1674

Grand Central Trains

Route:  Kings Cross – Yorkshire, Hartlepool, Sunderland
Online Bookings: cross
Folding bikes: tick No restrictions
Tandems and tricycles:  tick Tandems welcome

‘Cyclists are welcome!’ Grand Central used to say, but they’ve become less welcoming. The fleet of older High Speed Trains used to carry up to six bikes in the ‘country end’ power car, but for reasons of its own, the company now says only four bikes are carried, two at each end (yes, a long run if you go to the wrong end). Newer trains have three cycle spaces in coach B.
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 went to some lengths to say it welcomed tandems and trailers (not exceeding one metre in any dimension), but this has also gone very quiet, athough in practise, as above, space is not an issue.

Tel: 0845 603 4852

Heathrow Connect (London)

Route: London Paddington – local stations to Heathrow Airport
Online Bookings: cross
Folding bikes: tick No restrictions
Tandems and tricycles: cross Not permitted

Heathrow Connect now limited bicycles to one per train, with standard Paddington 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. Expect everything to change when Crossrail starts running.

Tel: 0345 700 0125

Heathrow Express (London)

Route: London Paddington – fast to Heathrow Airport
Online Bookings: cross
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. Peak hour bans are as for Heathrow Connect.
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 allowed to share the long cycle tunnel from the Hayes direction, but they’ll just have to queue, won’t they?

Tel: 0345 600 0650

Island Line

Route: Isle of Wight only
Online Bookings: tick You will be taken to the South Western Railway web pages
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. A very entertaining ride, but what a shame the line doesn’t still go through to Ventnor… very useful for cyclists.

Tel: 0845 6000 650

London Midland

Routes: London Euston – Birmingham, Birmingham – Liverpool and local services in the West Midlands
Online Bookings: cross
Folding bikes: tick No Restrictions
Tandems and tricycles: cross Not 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 (TfL Services only)

Transport for London has been busy integrating the rules for its diverse network of underground and overground railways in the capital. Broadly speaking, bicycles banned outright in some areas and allowed in others, outside of Monday to Friday peak-hours: 07.30 to 09.30 and 16.00 to 19.00. Folding bikes are allowed everywhere at all times. All the details can be found on the excellent Transport for London web pages.

Docklands Light Railway (London)
Routes: Light rail network throughout East London
Online Bookings: cross
Folding bikes: tick Enclosed in a container or case
Tandems, trailers and tricycles:  cross Not permitted

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 on 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

London Overground
Most local rail services in and around London
Online Bookings: cross
Folding bikes: tick
Welcome everywhere at all times
Tandems, trailers and tricycles: cross Not permitted

Bicycles are banned on the entire Overground network on Monday to Friday from 07.30 to 09.30 and 16.00 and 19.00. The only exception is trains on the Liverpool Street towards Chingford, Cheshunt and Enfield Town where bikes are allowed to travel contraflow in the peak: out from London between 07.30 and 09.30, and into London between 16.00 and 19.00. Elsewhere there is a temporary ban between South Tottenham and Barking while electrification work progresses (very slowly). Opening of the Elizabeth cross-rail line is likely to cause a few changes.

Tel: 0845 6014867

London Underground
Online Bookings: cross
Folding bikes: tick
Must be folded. It is advisable to cover the bike whilst on the Underground, although this is not a regulation, and the folded bike must measure less than two metres long
Tandems, trailers and tricycles: cross Not permitted

The Underground network is divided into two areas. Bikes are banned at all times from the central area bounded by (but not including) the Circle line, plus some other places outside the central area, and sometimes a long way out: Piccadilly services in the Heathrow airport complex and throughout the central zone from Barons Court to Oakwood (just about everywhere in practise), the entire Northern line south of East Finchley and Golders Green, Jubilee services between Finchley Road and Canning Town, Bakerloo south of Queen’s Park, Central services from White City to Leyton, the entire Victoria line,  Waterloo & City, and a few other isolated pockets. Elsewhere, bicycles are allowed everywhere at all times other than during the standard peak-hour banned period.

Tel: 0207 222 1234

Other services: Croydon tram network, Emirates cable car, river boats
Surprisingly, bicycles are allowed on the Emirates Air Line cable cars at any time. Also rather surprisingly, bicycles are banned from the entire Croydon tram network.

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



Routes: Local services around Liverpool and the Wirral
Online Bookings: cross
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
Online Bookings: cross
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, but space on trains is limited, especially at peak times, so the recent emphasis has been on cycle parking. Leeds Station now has a ‘Cycle Point’ offering Dutch style bike parking, hire, repair and cycle shop. So far, despite the  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, and watch out for the busier leisure routes. Caution should be exercised when taking bikes to popular cycling destinations like Delamere Forest, the Peak District, Settle to Carlisle, and others. Allow yourself an alternative train in case everyone else fancies using your planned train! As elsewhere, folded bikes are not restricted, and this might be a better answer if you travel regularly.

Tel: 0845 000 0125   Reservations: 0845 600 8008


Routes: London – Kent & South East England
Online Bookings: cross
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


Routes: Most services in Scotland  (but no longer for London Euston – Scotland sleepers – see Caledonian Sleepers)
Online Bookings: cross
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

Southern (now incorporating Gatwick Express)

Routes: London – Surrey, Sussex & South East England
Online Bookings: cross
Folding bikes: tick Folding 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 2017? Be very cautious with a bicycle because some 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 Western Railway

Routes: London Waterloo – South West London and South West England
Online Bookings: cross
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 there are some odd anomalies with SWT’s discount ‘Megatrain’ tickets. You sometimes wonder if they put restrictions on these things just to differentiate the product from the full-fare job. Megatrain tickets have previously not included bicycle carriage on the busy Southampton or Portsmouth routes, even on a train where bicycles are welcome. The Megatrain website now makes a point of clarifying that bicycles ARE allowed from Waterloo to Southampton/Weymouth and Waterloo to Havant/Portsmouth. (It adds that bicycles are banned on Megatrain tickets on East Midlands Trains and Virgin Trains, which doesn’t concern us here). 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: via web site

Translink (Northern Ireland)

Routes: RAIL & BUS SERVICES – Belfast – Larne, Bangor, Derry & Cross-border Enterprise trains to Dublin
Online Bookings: cross
Folding bikes: tick No restrictions
Tandems and tricycles: cross Tandems and motorised bicycles are not permitted on trains or road coaches.

Hold on… why does Northern Ireland have 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
Online Bookings: cross
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 been widely ignored, to the anger of rush-hour passengers, causing so many problems that Irish Rail has cracked down on offenders. Luckily the restrictions are very simple (an advantage of having one national operator). Bikes are not allowed on trains arriving in Dublin before 09.30 in the morning, and between 16.00 and 19.00 in the evening.
Bike space on Intercity services (effectively Cork-Dublin and Dublin-Belfast), and pre-booked bikes on the Cork-Dublin corridor are allowed on peak hour trains. That’s about all you have to remember for the whole country.

For full details and local gossip, see the bikes on trains page for campaign group Rail Users Ireland.

Valley Lines

(Now part of Arriva Trains Wales – see above)

Virgin Trains (West Coast)

Routes: London Euston – West Midlands, North Wales, North West England & Scotland
Online Bookings: cross
Folding bikes: tick No restrictions
Tandems and tricycles:  tick  One is allowed on Pendolino trains

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 0871 977 4222 (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: Virgin has a fleet of Voyager and Pendolino trains. Both carry a yellow rectangle on the front (or rear) at the opposite end to the bike space. This is usually at the ‘country’ (ie furthest from London) end of the train.

Tel: 0871 977 4222

Virgin Trains East Coast  Formerly East Coast

Routes: London Kings Cross – Yorkshire – North East England – Scotland
Online Bookings: cross Virgin says online bicycle booking will return
Folding bikes: tick No restrictions
Tandems and tricycles: tick We think tandems are still permitted (subject to length restrictions), and tricycles still 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, sure enough, bike spaces on diesel High Speed Trains have (magically) reduced from five to three, although the electric trains still carry five.
Advance reservations are compulsory and spaces must be reserved in advance, although you can now book space as little as ten minutes before departure at a VTEC booking office or travel centre. Bike carriage arrangements are a bit unusual, and its very important to know whether you’re catching a diesel train or an electric train (if you don’t find out in advance, the electrics shouldn’t(!) emit any smoke, and make a loud cooling fan noise rather than a chuggy noise). In electric trains the cycle space is in the guards office at the London (first class) end of the train. With diesel trains, the bicycle space is in coach B at the OTHER end of the train – ie, nearest to Edinburgh. Either way, there should be platform staff to help wherever you board or alight, and they will help you load the bike… this is not a DIY operation. Make sure to get yourself down the train to the door nearest the bike on arrival, or you will hold everything up and get shouted at.
Some platforms on this 400 mile railway line are short, so before travelling you need to know the type of train, and the length of the platform.
Virgin Trains East Coast inherited East Coast’s on-line cycle reservation scheme, but it has now changed its web booking system, so that’s gone sadly.
Tandems are allowed, but subject to a length restriction, and they count as two bikes, which is a bit unfair.

Tel: 03457 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 
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
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
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 
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)
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 & Welsh Highland Railways

Ffestiniog: Porthmadog -Minfford  National Rail Network Interchange-Blaenau FfestiniogNational Rail Network Interchange
Welsh Highland: Porthmadog-Beddgelert-Caernarfon

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

Porthmadog Harbour station serves both routes and is only 0.75-mile from the National Rail Network InterchangePorthmadog station. The Welsh Highland Line runs for 25 miles  through Snowdonia via Beddgelert, where there are some great forest tracks, and Dinas to Caernarfon, where the stations are adjacent to the Lon Eifion cycle way. Much of the Caernarfon to BangorNational Rail Network Interchange journey can be done on cycleways following the old railway line.
Bicycles are subject to a charge of £3.00 per journey. There is limited space on board for bicycles, so please phone in advance if possible to check with the booking office before travelling.

Tel: :01766 516024   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
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
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
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
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)
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

Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch

Routes: Hythe – New Romney – Dungeness
15 inch – duplicates a Sustrans route, but certainly 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
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 is now free, but bikes must be placed in the luggage areas. 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: National Rail Network Interchange Wareham, Norden (park & ride) – Corfe Castle – Swanage 
Standard, and now a really useful transport link

Folding bikes: tick No restrictions   Tandems and tricycles:  Unknown

Now the railway has reopened through to Wareham, this line is extremely helpful, bypassing a busy and dangerous stretch of the A351. 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 
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 for bicycles and £6 for tandems per single journey. Tricycles are not specifically banned, but space is very limited.

Tel: 01654 710472

Watercress Line (Mid-Hants)

Routes:National Rail Network InterchangeAlton – New Alresford 
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

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