January 2014

Scotland Bike/Rail – the future

Spokes has written to the five companies intending to bid to run the ScotRail franchise …

In March 2015 the current ScotRail franchise expires and there is keen competition between the five companies below who have pre-qualified to run the service.

The Scottish Government has now published its Invitation to Tender [ITT] document [4MB], detailing the many requirements and desirables which companies are asked to take account of in their bid.

To our delight there is considerably more on rail/bike integration than we had expected [see Background below].  Much of this, unfortunately, is in terms of ‘desirables’ rather than requirements. Nonetheless, with keen competition to run ScotRail, bike/rail will be an area where bidders can attempt to outshine their rivals.   Indeed, some bidders are already appearing at cycling events – one, for example, took a stall at the recent Cycling Scotland conference and brought along several of the hire bikes which they are already introducing at stations in England.

Spokes is pushing the process by writing to the bidders, giving concrete ideas on how they can do the best for bike/rail.   Our letter [pdf 131k] covers the areas where the ITT proposals are good, where they are mixed, and where bidders could go much further than in the document.  We also make proposals on the relationship between station bike and car parking.   Points where improvement is needed include…

  • The most serious weakness of the ITT is in specifying a minimum of only 2 bikes per train.  Whilst most trains will undoubtedly have more, this is quite inadequate as a minimum figure – we propose a minimum of 2 spaces per coach, which can include flexible space useable also by wheelchairs, prams etc.
  • There should be commitments to provide bike hubs at major stations – facilities with a range of services such as secure storage, basic bike maintenance and bike hire [see ATOC toolkit below for more on Bike Hubs]
  • Much more encouragement is needed for people to walk/cycle rather than drive to local stations.  This should include more car-space charging and, given that many bikes can be parked in one car space, provision for all bike-parking demand before car-parking space is allocated [disabled excepted].


Find out more about the bidding companies and contact them to pass on your ideas of what should be in their bids.  Copy us your email and any useful replies.

  • Abellio  http://www.abellio.com/
  • Arriva http://www.arriva.co.uk/
  • FirstGroup  http://www.firstgroup.com/
  • MTR Corporation http://www.mtr.com.hk/eng/homepage/cust_index.html
  • National Express http://www.nationalexpressgroup.com/


The Spokes bike/rail contact person is Ewan Jeffrey –  email ewanATnavyblue.org.uk – phone 0131 225 6460.


Back in 2012 the government consulted the public on what they wanted in the new franchise.   Spokes made a major effort to get bike/rail taken seriously  and we particularly thank you if you responded to the government consultation.   As a result of those efforts by Spokes and others, the Invitation to Tender document is much more supportive of bike/rail than we had expected and much more so than in the current franchise.  See pages 95-103 and especially 99-100.



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