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Can we trust the train?

It doesn’t seem long since I was trying to convince you, and me, about the need to travel by public transport. I outlined, in my last blog, some of the worries and concerns we have about using the bus, or even the train. I wanted to tackle those fears and suggest that regardless of them we should give it a go and lead by example.

Oh dear…

I’ve just travelled back from a Scottish trip on the train and it did not go as planned. All those worries played out in turn.

I’d completed a big mountain bike journey around the Scottish Highlands based on a route known as the Highland 550. I’d already extended the route by 80 miles starting it in Glasgow as engineering works meant the train wasn’t running to the true start in Tyndrum. The route also finished in Tyndrum and I thought that I’d get the train back from Tyndrum to Glasgow and hence home, back to north Wales.

Oh dear…

I wandered up to the platform in Tyndrum in good time to board the Scotrail train to Glasgow to be greeted by a Train Cancelled message on the digital display. I went back to the hostel to use their wi-fi to check this out on the ScotRail website, it also said that it was cancelled

Oh dear…

Try the bus suggested someone, they take bikes. Off I went and waited at the bus stop. The bus is a smart coach, provided by Citylink, travelling from Skye to Glasgow. It arrived on time and the driver opened the luggage storage compartments. I could see there was plenty of space, but it was on other side of the bus. However, before I could even tackle how to get my bike into the luggage storage I was told it had to be in a bag. Rules is rules. It needs to be in a bag and we have no space as we can’t load from the other side, health and safety, you know. I was left at the bus stop.

Oh dear…

Ok, now it’s the afternoon train. I spent a while transferring my Avanti Glasgow to north Wales ticket online than wandered up to the station again for the 13.20 train. It arrived. It was full, really full. No room for me. I was left on the platform again. Rather upset by now.

Fortunately I have my health and I had a bike so an anger fuelled pedal south ensued. I couldn’t make the 60 miles to Glasgow that day, but I did arrive in good time for the 10.40 train the next day. There was no space for a bike. All bike reservations for that day, on every Avanti train were taken.

Oh dear…

I thought, I’ll try anyway as I had my ticket and I’d been assured it’d be OK on this train, just no bike reservation. I could see people wandering down the platform, no ticket checks to board the train, I went for it. Of course you guessed it, I was stopped “Can I see your bike reservation please Sir”. “No” I replied. To be fair the staff were lovely, they wanted to help, but, as ever, rules is rules. My only hope now was that someone who had a bike reservation wouldn’t show up.

Oh dear…

A nervous wait began and in my mind I plotted how to nobble any approaching cyclists, one came close, but veered away. Two more came right up to the platform, but they didn’t have reservations either. With five minutes to go, the two bikes due had not arrived, I pleaded… YES, they let me on, phew.

Oh dear…

I’d only be allowed on the TfW service to Wales from Warrington if there was space in the bike storage. There was, but only just.

A very stressful, demeaning and uncomfortable experience. I know people are facing greater challenges right now, but I could have driven, left my car for three weeks somewhere, returned to it then driven home. I tried to use public transport and it was not good enough.

What will you do?

I'm not sure you can even trust the Cycle Racks!

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Oh dear Mike... What a terrible experience. You don't need this hassle after cycling 630 miles. When all you want is to get home. The transport companies and government need to do more if they want to encourage us to leave our car's at home and use public transport.

Well done on an epic ride.

Mike Raine
Mike Raine
Jun 01, 2022
Replying to

They really do. Serious Government lead is required for regional railways. I fear they can't face prising us out of our cars though. Hence, there will be more road building instead of public transport investment. It is a challenge though, and it's an expensive one. Somehow Government needs to be better at long term planning and future vision.

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