Booking a bike with GWR... Oh the saga

rivers

How far can I go?
Location
Bristol
On a weekly basis, I book my daily bike space on the train from my home station to Bath Spa for work. It's an IET service to London Paddington so without a booking I'm chancing being able to take my bike on the train. In August, I'm headed to Plymouth for some bikepacking over Dartmoor and Exmoor. Can I book a bike space? Nope, but I can't book a bike space on ANY train from Bristol to Temple Meads to Plymouth, (can't book from home to temple meads as it's a local service). I have checked many times and dates, and apparently they are all "fully booked". No matter if I check tomorrow, next week, next month, etc. I even picked a couple of days and tried EVERY service, and nothing. So I phone GWR to try and book, explained the situation and said no matter what I tried everything was booked and surely that can't be right....
 

Oldhippy

Veteran
And Thorrington lies the stupidity of the current system. All the flowery 'Take the train, its greener and we care' rubbish but we are not going to make it easy to take your own transport, in fact we are going to make nigh on impossible and hope you go away. Oh and where we do provide space it will be inappropriate and there will only be a couple of spaces.
 

Dogtrousers

Kilometre nibbler
I had something similar last year. My friend was riding LE-JOG and I was planning to ride with him as far as Yorkshire. Getting to the start at LE was too difficult, so I decided to get the train from London to Exeter or Plymouth and intercept him early on. But, even though I was planning well in advance, it was impossible to book a bike on the train.

In the end I got the train from London to Weymouth - which was easy - and intercepted him in Devon.
 
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So I phone GWR to try and book, explained the situation and said no matter what I tried everything was booked and surely that can't be right....

Did they have any response?

I suspect there is something specific about the trains to the SW. I almost got stuck in Exeter on 1st May BH last year. Missed my train home, and there were no spaces - officially - for bikes on any train headed North/East on any line until 2 days later!
As predicted, the first train to turn up did indeed have unused spaces. I think it's too easy to book a train+space, then cancel just the train bit (or amend to a different service). That was early May - come summer proper I'm sure demand sky-rockets.

I'm sure we've all sat next to empty seats that claimed to be Reserved. The system is broken :sad:
 
OP
OP
rivers

rivers

How far can I go?
Location
Bristol
Did they have any response?

I suspect there is something specific about the trains to the SW. I almost got stuck in Exeter on 1st May BH last year. Missed my train home, and there were no spaces - officially - for bikes on any train headed North/East on any line until 2 days later!
As predicted, the first train to turn up did indeed have unused spaces. I think it's too easy to book a train+space, then cancel just the train bit (or amend to a different service). That was early May - come summer proper I'm sure demand sky-rockets.

I'm sure we've all sat next to empty seats that claimed to be Reserved. The system is broken :sad:

Just that it was likely they were all booked up- I highly doubt the 200+ services I looked at were booked up. I was bored during my lunch break. I just think it might be unbookable services.
 

T4tomo

Guru
Just that it was likely they were all booked up- I highly doubt the 200+ services I looked at were booked up. I was bored during my lunch break. I just think it might be unbookable services.

I have read / heard / absorbed by osmosis* somewhere that if they know they are likely to have to change the train formation or rolling stock (or have a bus recement part of service) that may have less bike spaces they put a bar on booking them. They aren't worried about screwing up seat bookings in such an occurrence, so that doesnt get blocked, you just board and get an announcement that says sod you we changed it all and sit where you can find somewhere.

*delete as applicable
 

Brandane

Rain magnet.
Location
Costa Clyde.
I've been having similar problems trying to book a journey in June from Ayrshire to Portsmouth (planning to take ferry to France then cycling the Loire valley. My first choice weekend of departure was the 11th/12th June, but EVERY train is listed as fully booked (and that's without getting as far as bike reservations, another problem in the making). I find that hard to believe given that it is outwith any recognised holiday period and not a bank holiday weekend. I will now have to rethink, as I don't want to leave this trip until the school holiday period starts. Travel then becomes stressful, busy, and expensive. Or possibly scrub it and do something else. Thanks, oh wonderful rail system of the UK... As a matter of interest, I had no problem at all getting passenger and bicycle reservations sorted on Trainline.com for the French leg of the journey, from Caen to Nevers, via Paris.
 

Ming the Merciless

There is no mercy
Location
Inside my skull
I've been having similar problems trying to book a journey in June from Ayrshire to Portsmouth (planning to take ferry to France then cycling the Loire valley. My first choice weekend of departure was the 11th/12th June, but EVERY train is listed as fully booked (and that's without getting as far as bike reservations, another problem in the making). I find that hard to believe given that it is outwith any recognised holiday period and not a bank holiday weekend. I will now have to rethink, as I don't want to leave this trip until the school holiday period starts. Travel then becomes stressful, busy, and expensive. Or possibly scrub it and do something else. Thanks, oh wonderful rail system of the UK... As a matter of interest, I had no problem at all getting passenger and bicycle reservations sorted on Trainline.com for the French leg of the journey, from Caen to Nevers, via Paris.

I’ve had this before and I tweeted the rail company. Turned out to be a problem in booking system (as in bike places not rekeased or something) which they fixed.
 
... and therein lies one of the reasons I bought a folding bike. If I want to go further afield than Northern Rail can take me ...
 

Dogtrousers

Kilometre nibbler
The most frustrating aspect is the unevenness of policy across train operating companies. I think intercity services in general and GWR in particular are particularly bad, but to be honest that's not based on a really scientific survey.

I frequently travel in and out of London to various destinations in about a 100km radius using non-intercity trains with my bike with no real problem. (That's weekend rides - generally a ride out to a destination then train back, so the large commuter capacity is lightly used)

@rivers good luck getting something sorted out.
 
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Oldhippy

Veteran
I think if an experiment were run over the whole system whereby just a third of one carriage on every train was seat free for cycles for a year you would see a marked increase across the whole network proving that bike space is needed and wanted. As with politics though there are few brave souls who will stand up for convictions.
 
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T4tomo

Guru
A folder isn't really appropriate for off-road up and over Dartmoor and Exmoor though, is it?

I've not seen many 16" gravel tyres for the Brompton, and very much doubt the mudguards would allow them.

As pointed out, non intercity trains are fine outside of commuter times (I've taken a tandem on once which blocked up a fair few seats on a very quiet service) but the whole system for most rail operators is absolute pants and no-one wants to risk just pitching up without a bike booking to be told by some jobsworth guard, no you can't get on. Further more , if they arent expecting a bike on an intercity, then often you cant get into bike storage area if its no within the carriage.
I think if an experiment were run over the whole system whereby just a third of one carriage on every train was seat free for cycles for a year you would see a marked increase the whole network proving that bike space is needed and wanted. As with politics though there are few brave souls who will stand up for convictions.
This ^^ is what they have done with the line up to the Highlands / Fort William isnt it? A dedicated bike carriage.
 

Ming the Merciless

There is no mercy
Location
Inside my skull
I've not seen many 16" gravel tyres for the Brompton, and very much doubt the mudguards would allow them.

It’s more about what type of gravel with a Brompton. I’ve quite happily ridden off road on my Brompton but it needs to be fine compacted gravel like you’ll find on forestry double track or disused railways. Definitely not a bike for loose gravel or coarse gravel!
 
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