Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Bikes and trains

I was involved in a stramash at Edinburgh Waverley. My survivor's guilt at being one of two people who managed to complete their journey has resulted in this email being sent:

Dear Sir/Madam,

I am on my third day of a new commute from Edinburgh Waverley to Bridge of Allan, having spent £218.20 on a monthly season ticket. I live in Leith and work at the University of Stirling, so cycling to and from stations and putting my bike on the train is the most convenient way for completing my journey. Across the five journeys I have so far done:
  • On 8:03 to Dunblane on Monday the train was a two-car class 158 with a compartment previously used to store a catering trolley refashioned as a space for two bikes. Six bikes ended up on this train and the guard was very jovial and allowed people to stand with their bikes in the vestibule.
  • On the 16:31 Bridge of Allan to Edinburgh Waverley the train was a three car 170 with space for six bikes.
  • On the 8:03 to Dunblane on Tuesday the train was a class 158 with space for at least three bikes in a proper bike rack, and an very understanding guard who allowed all the bikes to travel.
  • On the 17:01 Bridge of Allan to Edinburgh Waverley on Tuuesday the train was a class 170 with space for three bikes and a former buffet/shop space that took up much of the middle carriage.
  • This morning, Wednesday 9 July, the 8:03 to Dunblane was again a class 158 with the compartment formerly used to store a catering trolley. This also contained the disabled access ramp. The guard only allowed two cyclists on board, this left passengers waiting for the next train at Edinburgh Waverley, Haymarket and Falkirk High.

Given this service is only every half hour and people needed to get to work people were very angry. Your guard suffered verbal abuse because she was doing her job and keeping the train safe. I completely understand that the guard’s job is to keep the train safe and that they are individually criminally liable for any injuries.

However, this brief experience of this commute suggests there are systematic problems in management of rolling stock and staff. Can I please ask that, firstly, you are consistent in what trains you put on services. On busy lines such as this at peak times, you should be prioritising having trains with the greatest amount of cycling space – the class 170s with six spaces. Your class 158s should also have the old storage compartments removed to increase the amount of cycle space – this is a case of unscrewing a few screws as far as I can make out. Secondly, can you please be consistent in training of guards. It is either unsafe to stand with your bike by a door, or it is not. This cannot be left to discretion. If it is not, then you need to provide a system for people to book bikes onto trains so they are not left stranded.


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