in praise of virgin trains

alecstilleyedye

nothing in moderation
Moderator
after yesterday's shenanigans with the wind, i trained it home last night (leaving bike securely locked away) with a view to training in and riding home.

unfortunately, the snow in macclesfield made it a tad dangerous, so i took the plunge and decided to take the bike back on the train.

at piccadilly, manchester, i wheeled the bike to the ticket office where, in addition to the cheapest ticket on the nicest train, i was able to get a free ticket for the bike. once on board the pendolino, the bike was secured by a straps, and the fact that i had a bike on board even guaranteed a seat in the adjacent coach.

none of the station or train staff were anything other than helpful, and certainly didn't make me feel like a nuisance.

credit where it's due; virgin make no extra money from carrying bikes, so it's a good facility. just make sure you get your ticket more than 10 minutes before departure, and avoid booking over the phone…
 

Brandane

Is it because I lied when I was 17?
Location
Costa Clyde.
Yep, always enjoy travelling with Virgin trains, especially when taking a bike. The BIG downside is cost. Unless you book well in advance, then you are looking at somewhere in the region of £140 return from Ayrshire to London. It's cheaper to fly but that's a PITA with a bike, so driving is the other cheaper option.
 

TheDoctor

Resistance is futile!
Moderator
Location
Stevenage
Use Virgin whenever I'm going up the WCML. Had an excellent trip to Carlisle last Valentines, and never a problem going to north Wales. While I'll be sad to see East Coast go, it'll be nice to have Virgin trains from my local station on the ECML too.
 

robjh

Legendary Member
The big downside of the pendolinos on the west coast route is that the cycle compartment is locked, so you have to wait for the train manager (or whatever the job title is these days) to let you out. They are very long trains and I have had a few anxious moments approaching my station and hoping that the guy would remember to come and unlock the door - although luckily so far they always have. And if by any chance you get on at Euston and find the bike door is already open and you load the bike yourself, then DO find the train manager and let him know - the platform staff won't tell him.

Other than that I've never had any problems with the booking system or staff service, and with just a little redesign of certain trains they would be near-perfect.
 

Dirk

If 6 Was 9
Bit different to the experience I had when coming back from Plymouth. Staff were most unhelpful and seemed to begrudge anything that would make it easier to take a bike by train. It all seemed too much trouble. Our local train, to and from Exeter - the Tarka Line - is an entirely different experience.
 

Globalti

Legendary Member
Yep... I had the same worry when I took the bike down to Laaandon for the 86 mile London 100. The guard nearly forgot me at Preston.
 

tournut

Active Member
Location
altrincham
after yesterday's shenanigans with the wind, i trained it home last night (leaving bike securely locked away) with a view to training in and riding home.

unfortunately, the snow in macclesfield made it a tad dangerous, so i took the plunge and decided to take the bike back on the train.

at piccadilly, manchester, i wheeled the bike to the ticket office where, in addition to the cheapest ticket on the nicest train, i was able to get a free ticket for the bike. once on board the pendolino, the bike was secured by a straps, and the fact that i had a bike on board even guaranteed a seat in the adjacent coach.

none of the station or train staff were anything other than helpful, and certainly didn't make me feel like a nuisance.

credit where it's due; virgin make no extra money from carrying bikes, so it's a good facility. just make sure you get your ticket more than 10 minutes before departure, and avoid booking over the phone…
Never had a problem with virgin with bike great service.
 

John the Monkey

Frivolous Cyclist
Location
Crewe
The big downside of the pendolinos on the west coast route is that the cycle compartment is locked, so you have to wait for the train manager (or whatever the job title is these days) to let you out. They are very long trains and I have had a few anxious moments approaching my station and hoping that the guy would remember to come and unlock the door - although luckily so far they always have. And if by any chance you get on at Euston and find the bike door is already open and you load the bike yourself, then DO find the train manager and let him know - the platform staff won't tell him.
As long as you have a reservation, the train manager gets a prompt to let you out at the right place.

They're not good services to get on an ad hoc basis (anecdotally, I hear of one person expecting to get off at Crewe, ending up at Watford junction after blagging their way on without a reservation). The best train company (ime) is Northern, who will carry your bike so long as it doesn't obstruct the aisle, and the space isn't needed for a wheelchair using passenger. On most of their trains, that means you can get 6 bikes in, carefully stacked (top and tailed, ideally with a road bike as first one in - MTB bars are too wide).
 

tournut

Active Member
Location
altrincham
As long as you have a reservation, the train manager gets a prompt to let you out at the right place.

They're not good services to get on an ad hoc basis (anecdotally, I hear of one person expecting to get off at Crewe, ending up at Watford junction after blagging their way on without a reservation). The best train company (ime) is Northern, who will carry your bike so long as it doesn't obstruct the aisle, and the space isn't needed for a wheelchair using passenger. On most of their trains, that means you can get 6 bikes in, carefully stacked (top and tailed, ideally with a road bike as first one in - MTB bars are too wide).
Thing is with northen trains thay dont have proper straps to tie bike up on the chester line, end up standing up to hold bike.
 

tournut

Active Member
Location
altrincham
It's all in how you stand them in the space, I find. A velcro strap to lock off the brakes (sort of like a parking brake) helps.
Will try to remember velcro next time thanks. P.s dont use arriva train north wales route, thay have only room for two bikes, and you end up in the door way as it is taken up with luggage. Many time i have a reservation for bike but no room for it. Or if there is room some idiot puts there bags in front of bikes, i normaly tell them thay need to read the sign or i just ditch there bags out of my way.
 

John the Monkey

Frivolous Cyclist
Location
Crewe
Will try to remember velcro next time thanks. P.s dont use arriva train north wales route, thay have only room for two bikes, and you end up in the door way as it is taken up with luggage. Many time i have a reservation for bike but no room for it. Or if there is room some idiot puts there bags in front of bikes, i normaly tell them thay need to read the sign or i just ditch there bags out of my way.
Backing the bike in, jovially shouting "Watch out mate, it's really muddy!" while chuckling will, quite often, have people scrabbling to move their stuff to one of the luggage stacks.
 

tournut

Active Member
Location
altrincham
Backing the bike in, jovially shouting "Watch out mate, it's really muddy!" while chuckling will, quite often, have people scrabbling to move their stuff to one of the luggage stacks.
Cheers mate will try that next time, but normaly the luggage is already there, and carnt go up and down train looking for plonkers who carnt read. But will give it a go. Thanks
 

albion

Veteran
Location
South Tyneside
Several months ago my booked cycle reservation train was late so I enquired about getting the bike onto a rival operators train.
Staff said 'there is seldom a problem and sure enough, on I went arriving at Newcastle ahead of schedule.

Whereas Virgin is a no go area on this matter as far as I know.
 
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