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“Please help me persuade Northern Rail to remind staff of a pragmatic approach to cycle carriage (BMX) ” – Dave H

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Dave H

On Saturday I came across a group of 6 kids with freestyle BMX bikes at Sheffield Station, heading home for tea after visiting the BMX/skate park in the city. There is a benefit for kids in gaining independence, making trips like this, and a security benefit of the older kids/group looking after each other.

BMX bikes naturally pack into less space than conventional solo machines, and the train to they were catching - for just 2 stops Meadowhall and Chapeltown, just after 6pm was a 102-seat Class 142 (adapted Leyland National bus body on adapted freight wagon chassis) with just 52 passengers on board, leaving Sheffield. All the bikes were fitted in to the 2 areas with tip-up seating.

Thanks to the flexibility of the design these trains can fit in up to 14 conventional bikes, (14% of seated capacity) and for reverse flow commuters in Bristol have been doing this with around 50% of the fare paying users taking bikes between Stapleton Road and Avonmouth/Severn Beach, where the distance from the rail station to the workplaces can be 2-3 miles, with no viable way to provide a bus service.

The guard refused to carry the whole party despite their being able to fit in without upsetting any of the other passengers, leaving 4 of them to hang around the station where boredom was clearly tempting them to start riding around to pass the time - far better in pragmatic management terms to pack them all home on the trains which could easily have carried them.

On my travels I often see groups of kids with bikes heading for top rated facilities, all filling the fresh air which is the gross waste of the way our trains operate outside peak hours, and indeed filling up to 20% of the seats on some Stagecoach 'bus' services (operated by coaches) in NE Scotland. I've seen kids travelling from Wolverhampton to Corby (4 changes of train) or in large numbers to Unit 23 (2 min from Dumbarton East station) without placing a constant call on the parental taxi service. Many now won't be getting cars and driving licences at 17 (the number of 17-25 year olds with a driving licence has halved - now less than 25% - in the past decade).

These are your potential friends and passengers of the future, summarily chucking them off a train when you can easily accommodate them is not the way to win their continued support. Let's keep that commonsense and pragmatic deal, if the passengers with bikes can be safely accommodated and no other passengers are upset, than avoid the potential for confrontation, delay and all that ensues and deliver the 'product' of a train journey on time.

Maybe I've set the germ of lobbying and campaigning in their young minds - by suggesting they write to Northern Rail, and their local MP (Chapeltown sadly is not Hallam!) and it might also prompt First in Sheffield to restore the Mainline cycle carrying deal on some of their bus routes. Up that hill in Rotherham would be VERY nice from a morning train or late at night...

For anyone reading this, as few TOC's seem to fail in counting up cycles carried on off-peak trains, please do informal counts as you can - ideally the total number of passngers, the total number of cycles and the type of train (= total number of seats).

We've had some beauties of bureaucratic rules blowing up as a 'looney rules' story - a 140 seat train with just 2 passengers on board, with bikes, and 2 further passengers, with bikes, refused (a pity one was a regional manager for a major operator of public attractions) or the 180 Ton 274-seat train with just 19 passengers on a Sunday morning - 12 with bikes (69%) and dragging around 9 Tons of train around for every passenger - fortunately on that line most staff work well to provide a handy way out of London to nicer places to ride a bike.

Problem History

  • 1 Dave H reported the issue on FixMyTransport. close 14:37 18 Sep 2011
  • 2 Dave H wrote to Northern Rail close 14:37 18 Sep 2011

    Here is the letter that Dave H wrote.

    Splitting up a group of minors going home from BMX riding

    On Saturday I came across a group of 6 kids with freestyle BMX bikes at Sheffield Station, heading home for tea after visiting the BMX/skate park in the city. There is a benefit for kids in gaining independence, making trips like this, and a security benefit of the older kids/group looking after each other.

    BMX bikes naturally pack into less space than conventional solo machines, and the train to they were catching - for just 2 stops Meadowhall and Chapeltown, just after 6pm was a 102-seat Class 142 (adapted Leyland National bus body on adapted freight wagon chassis) with just 52 passengers on board, leaving Sheffield. All the bikes were fitted in to the 2 areas with tip-up seating.

    Thanks to the flexibility of the design these trains can fit in up to 14 conventional bikes, (14% of seated capacity) and for reverse flow commuters in Bristol have been doing this with around 50% of the fare paying users taking bikes between Stapleton Road and Avonmouth/Severn Beach, where the distance from the rail station to the workplaces can be 2-3 miles, with no viable way to provide a bus service.

    The guard refused to carry the whole party despite their being able to fit in without upsetting any of the other passengers, leaving 4 of them to hang around the station where boredom was clearly tempting them to start riding around to pass the time - far better in pragmatic management terms to pack them all home on the trains which could easily have carried them.

    On my travels I often see groups of kids with bikes heading for top rated facilities, all filling the fresh air which is the gross waste of the way our trains operate outside peak hours, and indeed filling up to 20% of the seats on some Stagecoach 'bus' services (operated by coaches) in NE Scotland. I've seen kids travelling from Wolverhampton to Corby (4 changes of train) or in large numbers to Unit 23 (2 min from Dumbarton East station) without placing a constant call on the parental taxi service. Many now won't be getting cars and driving licences at 17 (the number of 17-25 year olds with a driving licence has halved - now less than 25% - in the past decade).

    These are your potential friends and passengers of the future, summarily chucking them off a train when you can easily accommodate them is not the way to win their continued support. Let's keep that commonsense and pragmatic deal, if the passengers with bikes can be safely accommodated and no other passengers are upset, than avoid the potential for confrontation, delay and all that ensues and deliver the 'product' of a train journey on time.

    Maybe I've set the germ of lobbying and campaigning in their young minds - by suggesting they write to Northern Rail, and their local MP (Chapeltown sadly is not Hallam!) and it might also prompt First in Sheffield to restore the Mainline cycle carrying deal on some of their bus routes. Up that hill in Rotherham would be VERY nice from a morning train or late at night...

    For anyone reading this, as few TOC's seem to fail in counting up cycles carried on off-peak trains, please do informal counts as you can - ideally the total number of passngers, the total number of cycles and the type of train (= total number of seats).

    We've had some beauties of bureaucratic rules blowing up as a 'looney rules' story - a 140 seat train with just 2 passengers on board, with bikes, and 2 further passengers, with bikes, refused (a pity one was a regional manager for a major operator of public attractions) or the 180 Ton 274-seat train with just 19 passengers on a Sunday morning - 12 with bikes (69%) and dragging around 9 Tons of train around for every passenger - fortunately on that line most staff work well to provide a handy way out of London to nicer places to ride a bike.

  • 3 Customer Relations responded to Dave H close 14:41 18 Sep 2011
    Dear Customer

    Customer Relations

    Case Reference: NR/224316

    Thank you for taking the time to contact Northern, the train
    company serving commmunities across the north of England.

    We aim to respond within 20 working days.

    In the meantime we can confirm receipt of your feedback/enquiry.

    Kind regards

    Customer Relations Officer

    show quoted sections
  • 4 Chris Rust commented close 15:11 18 Sep 2011

    This is a really big issue, I've seen this problem in various parts of the country where young teenagers want to get out independently and do something constructive and healthy with their lives but the train service is inadequate or hostile.

    As Dave says, these are the rail travellers of the future, huge numbers of kids just don't get it about public transport because they rely totally on their parents' cars, they just don't think of public transport as something to do with them. This is a great chance for the rail companies to get the support of future travellers and voters and show that they are interested in children gaining independence and a healthy lifestyle.

  • 5 Martin Bright commented close 21:29 18 Sep 2011

    Dave
    Isn't the best place to do this via the Northern Rail Cycle Users Forum?

    Experience suggests that Northern Conductors who use their discretion far outweigh those who stick to the "2 bikes per train" rule. Better for Northern to encourage their staff to be flexible, especially if the train staff union reps can support this.

    Hopefully the four BMX guys left behind would get a more sympathetic reception on the next train, 30 mins later.
    Martin Bright

  • 6 Dave H commented close 23:10 18 Sep 2011

    Thanks Martin, I am aware that the next meeting is not that far away, and we have a rash of rail/cycle activity in the Sheffield/Leeds region over the next month. A rare example, possibly, although we've seen the knee-jerk of banning all cycle carriage from Blackpool following the Manchester-Blackpool ride, rather than managing a combination of rail and road options, which has been proven for the 'other' London to Brighton bike ride, and the successful mass movement of cyclists with Merseyrail for the Liverpool to Chester ride.

    It was an example of something that goes beyond Sheffield - we get BMX riders in double figures on trains heading out to Dumbarton, I've seen them on SWT heading for Farnborough, and there are a number of benefits to getting them cleanly away on the train as a group not least the issue of having bored minors hanging about the station to keep track of, and parents expecting them to be on a particular train home (duty of care/management?)

    For Sheffield, the ability for kids to gain self sufficiency and independence though the ability to get home this way extends beyond Northern Rail (and for that matter EMTrains who manage the station). It might also prompt the restoration of the cycle carrying facility that used to be offered by Mainline buses, and perhaps even bring an evening cycle carriage facility on Supertram, following from First Bus's announcement of a trial of evening buses offering a restoration of the former SMT facility which was quietly dropped on most Scottish bus routes in the early 1990's.

    As Chris Rust highlights it is great to see kids doing something worthwhile with their spare time and we should be working to encourage this rather than curb it.

  • 7 Jo Bayly commented close 14:59 19 Sep 2011

    Fully support this comment and Dave H's letter. Great to see kids out on bikes, but if it was my son I too would want him to be able to stick with his mates. But it's a problem for families too, I can't go on the train with my kids all together. This is a national issue across all train companies. I'd use trains so much more with family and friends if we could take our bikes more easily.

  • 8 Shaun McDonald commented close 15:21 19 Sep 2011

    I've found Southeastern to be fairly good on Saturday/Sunday mornings for journeys when about 10-20 cyclists are on the 4 carriage train together for an organised bike ride. They've even been putting out announcements when we need to switch which side of the train the bikes are stored at due to the platforms the train is arriving at, thus allowing people to get on and off.

    anorak
  • 9 Northern Rail responded to Dave H close 16:35 20 Sep 2011
    [Remind staff of a pragmatic approach to cycle carriage (BMX) email]
    Northern Rail 224316

    20 September 2011

    Our Reference NR/ 224316

    Dear [Remind staff of a pragmatic approach to cycle carriage (BMX) email]

    Thank you for your e-mail, which I received recently.

    Thank you for your recent email. Please rest assured that your feedback has now been passed on to the relevant teams in Northern. Should you wish to know more please contact us directly at [Northern Rail problem reporting email].

    Thank you again for taking the trouble to contact me.

    Yours sincerely

    Debby Corbett
    Customer Relations Officer
    FREEPOST RLSL-ABEC-BGUU
    Northern Customer Relations
    First Floor, The Travel Centre
    City Railway Station
    Leeds
    LS1 4DY

    Tel 0845 00 00 125
    Fax 0113 2479 059

    http://www.northernrail.org

    show quoted sections
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  • started 18 September 2011
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Train route between Chapeltown and Sheffield operated by Northern Rail
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