Refusing bikes on board trains
Madam, – I am a keen cyclist but find myself repeatedly frustrated by the facilities available to cyclists in Ireland when travelling with a bike. Simply put, it is nearly impossible to travel by train with your bicycle. I will give two examples.
Last summer, I got a puncture in Dublin city centre and tried to get the Dart home with my flat tyre. At Pearse station I was told only foldable bikes were allowed, due to insurance conditions and health and safety risks of having bikes in the Dart carriage. After pleading with three members of staff, and promising to take the wheels off my bike and guard it closely on the carriage (it was Sunday afternoon, and the train was almost empty), I was allowed take my bike on board.
Why is it against the rules to bring a bike on board? In London the carriage of bikes on overground urban rail is a common sight and extremely useful to passengers, with a simple, sensible restriction on bike carriage at rush-hour during the week.
This summer, three friends and I will take part in an outdoor cycling event in Westport. The event is expected to attract about 2,000 competitors, all with bikes. We (presumably like very many other race participants), would like to travel by train to Westport with our bikes. The “Bicycle Information” section on Iarnród Éireann’s website states that “Intercity services can carry a minimum of three bicycles”. Why it tells the reader the minimum number a train can carry is unclear, and in any case this turned out to be incorrect.
On calling Heuston station I was told that trains from Dublin to Westport all have a bicycle carrying limit of two per train. The member of staff was very helpful and suggested I put my bike in a large bag and “disguise it” as luggage.
Camouflaged bikes aside, the policy of Iarnród Éireann in this regard is poor and shows that the Department of Transport’s National Cycle Policy Framework is going nowhere fast. Its promise that “We will ensure that intercity trains have proper provision for the carriage of cycles over and above the currently proposed maximum of two bikes per train” is now 14 months old.
How long must cyclists wait? Travellers in Europe will be well-used to seeing bikes transported by train, especially on the weekends. Why is Ireland so often behind other countries in this regard? Sadly my friends and I will be driving to Westport with our bikes. – Yours, etc,