I’ve been freelancing in London for the month, but I came back to Norwich this weekend for my father’s wedding. I decided to go through Cambridge; the train left just after work, and it’s not far to Kings Cross from the office.
I usually go through Liverpool Street, but I thought this might be quicker. It turned out to be a lot slower, and I missed part of dad’s wedding-eve meal. Thanks for that, National Express.
I got to Cambridge – halfway there – and tried to change, but I wasn’t allowed on the train. Apparently, “union rules” say that only 4 bikes can be carried at a time. On a train carrying more than 300 people.
I’d have to wait another hour for the next train, the guard told me, when another four bikes could be taken. I looked around the platform and saw 10 waiting bikes. It didn’t look good, so I offered to break the bike down and put it in the overhead compartment – “still a bike, not allowed”, he said.
While I was waiting I watched a train pull up, which belonged to another company. I saw 21 bikes roll on. Capital Connect apparently have a more bike-friendly strategy than National Express.
I contacted National Express and asked them exactly what the deal was with bikes on their trains, and can I book and guarantee a space for a bike. I’ve had no reply so far, but if I ever do I’ll update this post.
Complaining about unavoidable delays is pointless, but this was entirely down to a lack of planning. A train from Cambridge – bike capital of the UK – on one of the hottest days for a long time, and there’s space for just four bikes an hour. That’s not good enough.
UPDATE: I have been sent an email by National Express. It’s very short, and includes a link that they say should answer my questions. It points to an error message – a broken page.