I mentioned in part one of the mini-series of posts that I had recently been asked to contribute my thoughts about travelling by train in Europe from the perspective of a cyclist for a report called The Great Train Comparison. The survey has now been published…
…and the thoughts of Andrew P. Sykes are included. But before we get to those words of wisdom, here’s Andrew Merry of Loco2* – the organisation that carried out the research – explaining the rationale behind the work:
“Speed of course has its own appeal, but many travellers are looking for something more. They want services geared to their particular needs and that’s why we commissioned this report. We’ve selected 11 target audiences and researched just how well modern European train operators meet the needs of these groups. Our aim has been to understand the details of the various services on offer in order to showcase the best from across Europe. Which operator gains points for being kid-friendly? Who scores well when it comes to having good value meals available all day in its restaurant cars? Where will cyclists find a warm welcome? And which trains are a good choice for a couple looking for a romantic escape?”
So, as far as cycling goes, the results of the survey (to which, incidentally, I have made no contribution) reveal the following three companies as being the ‘top performers’:
SBB CFF FFS is Swiss Federal Railways, OBB is Austrian Federal Railways and Virgin Trains runs the west coast mainline in the UK. The latter company was mentioned in part two of this series of posts when I reviewed the conditions of carriage for bicycles of all the train companies in the country. This is what Virgin Trains say about bicycles:
“Our West Coast Mainline trains can take up to four bikes, and our Pendolino trains even have space for two tandems (no penny-farthings though). It’s free, but remember to reserve your space in advance… You can reserve a bike spot up until your departure time, but space is very limited so the earlier you can reserve, the better. If your bike folds up, it can travel any time – no reservation required.”
It’s that thing about not requiring advanced reservation which is so important. I can only imagine that the Swiss and Austrian railways came out far better than Virgin when it comes to the number of bicycles that can be taken on board the trains.
Here’s my contribution to the report:
And a few more thoughts from the report by Hidden Europe:
The full report can be downloaded from the Loco2 website but here is the summary across all the categories that were surveyed:
Your own thoughts – I’m sure you have them when it comes to travelling by train with your bicycle – are, as always, more than welcome so please do contribute them via the ‘comments’ section below. Happy travelling!
* “Loco2 was launched in 2012 by a team of committed train travellers, led by brother and sister Jamie and Kate Andrews. Loco2 also means ‘Low CO2‘ – by simplifying the booking process, Loco2 helps travellers ditch the plane for a lower-carbon journey by train.” The company is now owned by the French rail operator SNCF.