November 2011

Future of bike-rail in Scotland

Two major consultations will help decide the future of bike-rail in Scotland…


EGIP Edinburgh-Glasgow Improvement Programme
Comments close 30 November

This massive main line electrification project (which extends to Alloa and Dunblane, and includes new sections of railway) will bring many benefits but bike carriage is a very big worry.  Currently there are an excellent 4-8 official bike spaces every 15 minutes on the Edinburgh-Glasgow main line, enabling cycling to meetings at the train journey’s end, and making bike-rail a true door-to-door service.

EGIP promoter Network Rail says they ‘expect’ the new trains not to have less bike space than at present.  But Scottish Government agency Transport Scotland decides, and the North Berwick class 380 electric trains they specified, which may be used here, set a dreadful precedent – just one folding-seat bike area in the 4-coach train [plus one accompanied bike per vestibule if space].   For more on the North Berwick trains see our rail documents page.

If future Edinburgh-Glasgow bike space concerns you please comment at and also ask your MSPs to raise it with Transport Scotland.   Send us any useful replies.

Spokes argues that every train in Scotland should have a flexible space in every carriage – catering for bikes, pushchairs, bulky luggage and wheelchairs.  Note that this will also matter for the Borders Railway Project [article in Spokes 109].

Apart from bike carriage, other EGIP issues also concern us – see the Spokes EGIP submission [pdf 23k] – you may wish to make some of the same points in your own comments.


ScotRail Franchise
– Consultation not yet started but this is extremely important so we are preparing ideas early

The existing ScotRail franchise runs to November 2014, but consultation by Transport Scotland (the Scottish Government’s Transport agency) on the terms of its renewal is expected to start in the next few months. 

The consultation is our best opportunity to press for improved cycle-carriage on Scotrail, as well as for other matters such as better bike parking, bike hubs, improved station accesses/ connections, etc.   Any successes we have here would affect the entire ScotRail network for years to come.

Some current bike-carriage provision in Scotland is quite good – for example, the mainline Edinburgh-Glasgow service – but some leaves a lot to be desired, and provision has actually been worsened recently on the North Berwick line [see above].  Many of these bike-carriage problems are the result of the existing franchise agreement not having a clear specification for cycle carriage, whilst containing performance requirements that influence the franchise operator to maximise the provision of inflexible fixed seating for commuting journeys – to the detriment of many other user groups, including cyclists.

The franchise winner will be required to operate Scotland’s rail service to the franchise specification, so it is important to persuade Transport Scotland to make it more bike friendly than the present one.  Here is a draft of our current thinking on the franchise [pdf 236k].   Please send Ewan Jeffrey your comments and suggestions on this draft submission [].  Even before the consultation officially begins we will use this document to start pressing our case.

You may also wish to contact your MSPs – they could ask Transport Scotland to think seriously about cycling issues in preparing the consultation.   If so, make the points that cycling and bike-rail are not just about recreation (as some decision-makers appear to think) – many trips, including many off-peak, are for utililty purposes such as travelling to meetings.   Yet several government policy documents point to the need for better bike-rail provision.   For example, the National Transport Strategy, which states [para 164] …  “We aim to further increase funding for cycling and walking overall and will place more emphasis on the promotion of them as sustainable forms of transport … focusing on …and the carriage of bicycles on public transport.”

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