Monday, October 31, 2016

Accompanied bicycles on TER trains in France

We went by train today with our touring bikes from Wissembourg, Alsace to Nancy, Lorraine via Strasbourg. What we learned was

  • If you use or trainline EU to book your tickets for train trips in France and you use the option to pick the tickets up at a French station, be prepared to wait in a queue if you don't use a ticket dispenser to get your tickets. The larger stations have long queues to buy tickets.  Even some of the smaller stations with staff can be difficult. The Gare de Wissembourg employs bilingual French and German speaking staff. It is used quite extensively by Germans from the South West to book complicated journeys in France and this can take time, as I found today.
  • You can get all your tickets at once not only for the station you are at. Once you've got your ticket/s do not forget to "composter" -stamp- your tickets in the yellow pod devices by the entrance to the platforms, before you get on your train. Otherwise the ticket collector can fine you  40 or so Euro for an "un-composted" ticket. 
  • It is a good idea to take a bungee or two to secure your bike/s, because some of the older TER coaching stock bounces around the curves. You can hang your steed up, but this appears not to be de rigeur on the older trains. If you are going to hang up your bike then do when the train in standing still, don't wait for it to move. It starts jumping about like a bucking bronco.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Edinburgh Waverley Station Bike Facilities - Watch out Copenhagen

We are both British but have lived abroad for 30 and 40 years. We have not travelled with a bicycle on a British train since privatisation. From what we read the railways in Britain do not appear to be very cyclist friendly. We read stories of British long-distance trains that take a maximum of two bicycles, so if a family of four want to take their bicycles on holiday, they need to travel on two separate trains. However we were pleasantly surprised recently on Edinburgh's Waverley Station. We wanted to take the recently reopened Borders Railway to Tweedbank. As we waited for the train I noticed a pillar on the platform. On closer inspection I noticed a number of tools, a bicycle pump and a rack to hang a bike from to ease working on it. Network Rail, the public organisation responsible for stations and track paid for this. This platform seems to offer better facililties than any Danish, Dutch or Swiss railway station we have visited.

However the warning that one should lock both front and back wheels does not bode well for bike security.

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