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KIRKLEES: Bike booking on trains is “dog’s breakfast”

Dewsbury Train Station
Dewsbury Train Station

A new booking system imposed on bike-using rail passengers has been denounced as “a dog’s breakfast” that is failing commuters.

Train operator TransPennine Express (TPE) has been accused of failing to listen to cycling groups’ concerns and of imposing an unworkable system that has left some passengers stranded.

It recently introduced a compulsory policy that requires cyclists to reserve a space for their bike before travelling. Critics claim some commuters have fallen foul of the new rule and have not been able to get their bike onto a train.

Mirfield councillor and keen cyclist Martyn Bolt described the new policy as “a dictat” and said it had been introduced in defiance of serious concerns expressed to senior TPE managers.

In calling for it to be scrapped he said: “It has been very ill-thought out.

“It is beholden on TPE to admit they have got it wrong and to rescind it until they have got a workable solution in place.

“They should scrap the policy until such time as they can do instantaneous booking. If you are late for your train then you cannot take your bike on it. You have to cycle home in the rain. That could be 20 miles or more.”

Cycle policies drawn up by TPE and fellow train operator Northern were discussed last September at a meeting of Cycle-Rail Forum for the North. Members were asked for “a steer” on introducing advance booking for bikes.

Among the concerns raised was that any booking system needed to be able to effect late or last-minute reservations to prevent commuters becoming stranded.

Clr Bolt, a Yorkshire regional councillor for the national cycling charity CTC, expressed surprise that TPE had ploughed ahead with its bike booking policy and said it smacked of paying lip service to campaigners’ views.

And he rejected TPE’s claims that it had consulted widely with cycling groups and charities, challenging management to provide evidence.

“There is nothing in the minutes of that meeting that suggests that this policy would be supported. Members expressed a lot of concern.

“TPE attended our meeting last week and never said a word about the new policy. We heard about the charges at the same time as everybody else. I strongly put it across that that was a total kick in the teeth to the consultation.

“These meetings should not be an opportunity for them to tell us about new rolling stock.

“If you cannot get your bike onto a train there may be a return to car transport.

“I don’t believe that anybody can create a policy so quickly. This must have been in their back pocket ready to roll. Rather than discuss it with people and face questions, they just flew it through. I think the phrase ‘dog’s breakfast’ was used at our most recent meeting.”

A spokesperson for TransPennine Express said: “We recently introduced a new cycle policy which requires those who would like to bring a bike onboard our trains to make a free reservation in advance of travelling.

“Before making this change, discussions between ourselves and the Cycle-Rail Forum of the North took place to understand the benefits and disadvantages of compulsory reservations for bikes on board, and this helped us to shape our policy.

“We understand that the policy change has affected the way that some customers use our services, and we will explore the options to introduce a reduced notice period for booking cycles on board for our new trains.”