Thousands of trains run every day across the UK, connecting towns, cities, and cycle routes. Because of this, travelling by train is a popular choice for many cyclists. Whether you’re heading out on an all-day mountain bike ride, or you want to choose a greener way to commute this summer, there are a few rules that you should bear in mind before you take your bike on the train.
1. There are no additional charges for bikes
As long as you have a valid ticket for your journey, you can take your bike on the train with you at no extra cost. Great news for commuters! It can mean a cheaper way to travel to work. Many of the UK’s busiest stations also have bike parking facilities that allow you to lock up your bike ready for your return home securely.
2. You may have to reserve your bike space
All UK trains only have a certain amount of space dedicated to holding bikes, so you may need to reserve an area dependent on where and when you’re travelling. With most train lines, you can reserve a space when you book your tickets online. Call their helpline or visit the ticket office at your departing station.
3. There can be restrictions during peak times
During busy peak times – weekday mornings (07:00–10:00) and weekday evenings (16:00–19:00), regular bikes are not permitted on services to and from London. There are also Monday–Friday restrictions in place for taking your bike on rail services to and from Cardiff (during the hours of 07.30–09.30 and 16:00–18:00).
4. Consider purchasing a fully-folding bicycle
If you’re hoping to use the popular train-and-bike combination to get to work, it might be worth considering the purchase of a fully-folding bicycle. These commuter-friendly bikes are exempt from the restrictions mentioned above, as they are compact enough to be placed in the luggage rack, which is essential to make space on busy services. They’re also more comfortable to carry than standard bikes, which is useful considering that no cycling is permitted in UK stations.
5. Always check your journey in advance
It’s still a good idea to double-check your train’s status because only the fully-folding bikes mentioned above are permitted on rail replacement bus services. If you’re travelling in and around London, you can quickly check the status of your train and the location of engineering work using the TFL website. Many other train providers offer similar services on their websites, so be sure to double-check before you head out.
All in all, taking your bike on the train with you is a cost-effective and environmentally-friendly way to travel. Just be sure to bear the rules listed above in mind to ensure your journey is as smooth as possible.