October 2014

A new Bike-Rail era?

The franchise to run ScotRail from 1st April 2015 has been won by the Dutch Abellio Group, promising a wide range of bike-rail improvements…

Before covering the detail we thank you if you helped in this achievement by following our suggestions during the lengthy bidding process, by submitting your comments to the government consultation and/or to the companies bidding for the franchise  and/or by emailing your MSPs.

Of course, the franchise decision by the Scottish Government is based on many factors, of which cycling is just one – although it has a high profile and Abellio’s high emphasis on bike/rail integration was a unique selling point.

However, each person who emailed to support bike/rail in the consultation helped government understand that this is an aspect which they must take seriously.   You helped get an excellent coverage of cycling in the Government’s Invitation to Tender document.  Likewise, subsequent emails to the bidding companies helped persuade companies to maximise the bike/rail offering in their bids.

Input by groups like Spokes counts for much less without this continuing background of public concern and interest.

Spokes member Alison Johnstone MSP said, “Abellio made a noticeable effort to engage the cycling community in Scotland and I urge them to continue this dialogue as they deliver on their promise of a transformation for cyclists using our railways. Cyclists will want to see rapid progress on extra bike capacity on trains and at stations. The Dutch are famed for their world-class cycling culture so expectations will be high for delivering change in Scotland.


[and a fAbellio cycling4 image CROPew comments]


Abellio’s detailed press release on the franchise award promises the following [our comments, including some uncertainties, are in italics] …


  • Based on our Dutch experience we will deliver the UK’s most extensive cycle/rail network

  • £1.6m investment in more cycle parking spaces

  • New, fully staffed Dutch style “Cyclepoints” at the key city hubs and “Cycleparks+” at five others [this is something we have long lobbied for, but we don’t yet know the locations]
  • Bike&Go cycle hire scheme at 10 stations, for only £3.80/day hire charge [another great development]
  • Improved off-peak cycle capacity on trains [however, we hope this is not a hint of peak-hour restrictions – many people currently use bike/rail in peak hours, and generally it works satisfactorily]
  • Transformation of the quality of inter-city services by introducing a fully refurbished fleet of HSTs by December 2018 to connect the seven cities. The refurbishment will deliver … more toilets, luggage space and bike accommodation.  [We are particularly concerned about the vital Edinburgh-Glasgow mainline service, which currently has probably the best bike carriage provision of any ScotRail service.  Up to now the Scottish Government and existing ScotRail have been unable to give us a clear assurance that bike capacity will be at least as good as at present when the new electric rolling stock takes over, starting in December 2017]
  • A flagship £1m national community rail programme to deliver the Scottish Government’s commitment to encourage and facilitate deeper community engagement delivering 10-15 new Scottish Community Rail Partnerships.   [CRPs in England have often proved positive in fostering bike/rail, encouraging better access to stations, better publicity of bike/rail options, etc]
  • Working with partners to attract international attention to the scenic beauty of Scotland’s railways with major upgrades to Scotland’s scenic trains to enhance the tourist experience, including … more luggage, cycle and ski storage

  • Expansion of multimodal products on Smartcards, including cycle hire.

Spokes will of course continue to lobby to ensure these promises come about, to clarify uncertainties, and to seek further improvement.  But, as always, emails and letters from individuals like you to MSPs and to the rail company create the background of interest which makes government and operators realise that bike/rail is a topic of big concern and makes them pay more attention to organisations such as Spokes.

The new franchise will also of course include a wide range of improvements other than bike/rail – see the press release.



Our bike/rail contact person is Ewan Jeffrey, email ewanATnavyblue.org.uk

Spokes Bike/Rail web page  and

Abellio ScotRail web page  and email address…  scotrail@abellio.com

Abellio franchise-award press release

Abellio Greater Anglia bike/rail developments [a taster for Scotland?]

Abellio ‘Going Dutch’ bike/rail brochure

Scottish Government Franchise Renewal web page

Scottish Government brochure on Abellio franchise promises

Scottish Government interactive map of Abellio franchise promises

Spokes news item, Feb 2012 [the Franchise consultation]

Spokes news items Jan 2014, 5th and 24th [contacting the bidders]

Spokes news item June 2014 [contacting MSPs]










Bike and Go   http://www.bikeandgo.co.uk/

Greater Anglia site


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