Train nonsense in Cambridge

Fuji on Cambridge trainI’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.

Fuji on Cambridge train 2I waited an hour, and managed to get on the next one. Once we’d set off I strolled through the carriages to see how many bikes managed to get on: 6 full-size and 2 folders.

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.

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One thought on “Train nonsense in Cambridge

  1. … yeah, but what happens when there’s a fire and nobody can get out because there are 21 bikes piled in front of the doors?

    (Personally I like the continental approach, where there’s a separate storage carriage for bikes. But it’ll never happen here for depressingly obvious reasons.)

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