October 2015
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Bike Space on ScotRail trains

Many central-Scotland trains, including Edinburgh-Glasgow main line, are to be replaced by new electric trains.  Are you concerned about bike space in the new trains??   

Each 3-coach or 4-coach train will have one dedicated bike space (officially holding 2 bikes, though maybe 3 or 4 in practice) compared to the current trains which have 2 bike spaces, each holding (officially) 2 bikes.   For more information, see our July news story.

Spokes is urging that, in addition, every coach should have a flexible space, with fold-down seats, and able to take all forms of large ‘luggage,’ whether prams, bikes, golf clubs, skis or whatever.  This would have many other advantages and should benefit ScotRail commercially.

Indeed, we would like this approach on every ScotRail train whenever they are refurbished, to reduce the problems experienced on non-electrified lines such as the new Borders railway.

We understand that ScotRail is open to the idea, but it has been rejected by Transport Scotland, the Scottish Government’s overseeing transport body.

Spokes has written to MSPs on the Parliament’s Cross-Party Cycling and Rail groups, asking them to raise this with the Minister.  Our case will be greatly helped if you contact your MSPs in support.   Find them at www.writetothem.com.

When you write, stress the benefit for many rail users, and for ScotRail itself – not just the obvious benefits for bike carriage.

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For other bike/rail issues see our bike/rail web page.

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The Spokes letter to the Cross Party Cycling Group, and earlier correspondence with Transport Scotland [names of officials removed]…

I am writing to you on behalf of Spokes as the members of the Scottish Parliament Cross Party Group on Cycling.  We would be grateful you could take up this matter soon, either individually or on behalf of the Cross-Party Group.  It is fairly urgent and should not be delayed until the next full CPCG meeting, which we understand is not till January.

Spokes has taken part in the EGIP rolling stock stakeholder consultation with Scotrail, but we found that its hands are tied by instructions from Transport Scotland.  We then sought to have a dialogue with Transport Scotland about this but were disappointed by its lack of willingness to engage.  Hence our approach to yourselves, as elected members.

Spokes made the case to Scotrail of the benefits of there being more flexible use space on Scotrail trains and that this should be designed into the new EGIP rolling stock. During the consultation meetings, Scotrail acknowledged that there were commercial and operation advantages, but said that it is constrained by Transport Scotland requirements to maximise the absolute number of fixed seats.

Our full submission and TS’s reply are shown in the correspondence below. Although lengthy, TS’s reply completely fails to address the subject about which we wrote! Our proposal is that, in summary:

1. Buying a new train fleet for EGIP represents an opportunity for a step change in the accessibility of Scotland’s trains.  It is particularly important that this opportunity not be missed for EGIP, as it has recently missed for the Class 158 refurbishment (for the Borders Railway, Scenic Lines and Fife Circle) where there was no stakeholder consultation.

2. It can not be right that if you are travelling with a child in a pram or, say, golf clubs or a bicycle, it is often difficult and sometimes impossible to get on a train which otherwise has lots of empty seats.

3. This is a problem every day across Scotland, because our trains are furnished almost entirely with rigid inflexible seating.  More use of flexible space is a win-win situation as:

  • It provides fairer equality of access and a welcome to Scotland’s railway to a wider range of stakeholder groups
  • It does not disadvantage commuters, and
  • There are commercial and operational benefits.

For example: Families groups with a child in pushchair or pram, if they get on (and we have observed a family with pushchair being refused onto an off-peak train at Falkirk Grahamston) can seldom sit close to the pushchair. If the child is asleep, the parent must stand and it makes it harder for the group to sit together.

3. Our recommendation is that every coach of every train should have a multi-use flexible space. The every coach recommendation is important because families, understandably, get into the nearest coach and can’t easily scurry along the platform.

This is a wider issue than merely how many bike spaces there are on a train, although that in itself is very important given the government’s ambition greatly to increase cycle use for utility and for tourism.  We hope that, if you agree that the provision of flexible space merits consideration, you will raise this with the Minister and wherever else appropriate.   We emphasise that the problem appears to lie with Transport Scotland much more than with ScotRail.

Yours faithfully

Ewan Jeffrey
Bike/Train Liaison
Spokes – Lothian Cycle Campaign

cc Spokes, Transform Scotland, Sustrans, Go Bike Glasgow, Transport Focus

——– Forwarded Message ——–

Subject: FW: EGIP Trains – Flexible Use Space
Date: Wed, 9 Sep 2015 10:11:54 +0000

Ewan,

Thank you for your email.  I note your comments regarding the proposal for flexible space on ScotRail trains.

The appropriate allocation of space within a train is always challenging as rolling stock has to run on a variety of routes and cater for passengers with differing requirements.  In trying to attract more passengers onto train services it is necessary to balance space for seating, cycle racks, toilets, luggage space, facilities for disabled travellers and pram users; and also to allow safe and quick access on and off the train.  The Hitachi train will need to accommodate all of these aspirations and Abellio ScotRail is managing the development of the layout in order to continue to provide space to carry bicycles free of charge on these new trains.

You will have been aware of the consultation process that was undertaken prior to the procurement of the ScotRail franchise by Transport Scotland.  This resulted in a strong focus on specifying additional and enhanced cycling facilities at stations to help reduce the pressure on board train capacity whilst still encouraging cycling as part of an integrated rail journey.

There was also a widespread engagement programme that bidders undertook before submitting their applications and the aspirations of various stakeholder groups for rolling stock enhancements was evidenced in the winning bid.  Therefore under the Abellio franchise there are a number of commitments which ScotRail has to deliver to support cycling and these include:-

  • produce a Cycle Innovation Plan (you have been provided with a copy) which will be updated yearly and includes; ways to develop cycling across the network including the creation of more and better cycling facilities to encourage customers to use their bikes to travel to and from stations and promote greater use of park and ride facilities;  details of the partnership working with local organisations and businesses to ensure that rail can fully contribute in enabling Scotland to offer a greater cycle experience for both residents and visitors.
  • deliver more than 5,000 cycle storage spaces at stations across the rail network, 3,500 of which will be in place within the first three years of the franchise.
  • three Cyclepoints will be installed at Glasgow Central, Edinburgh Waverley and Stirling Station providing a full range of cycle services.
  • Bike & Go to help alleviate pressures of customers taking bikes on trains.  The first was launched at Stirling station in April 2015 and recently rolled out to Edinburgh Haymarket. By 1 April 2017, the scheme will be extended to a further eight stations – locations for these have still to be confirmed.
  • With regard to the carrying of cycles on train, Abellio ScotRail is required to provide a minimum of two cycle spaces on trains across the network which can be booked in advance.
  • Abellio ScotRail has committed to training their staff in cycle capacity procedures and how to provide additional ad-hoc spaces where there is demand, without compromising passenger safety.

There is an opportunity, through the Cycling Forum, for organisations such as SPOKES, SUSTRANS and Cycling Scotland etc who are represented at the meeting, to work together to contribute to the Cycling Action Plan Scotland through encouraging the use of cycling to and from stations, including the promotion of local cycle hire schemes.

Regards,

ScotRail Franchise Manager – Projects and Investment

Franchise Management Unit
Rail Directorate

Transport Scotland
Buchanan House
58 Port Dundas Road
Glasgow
G4 0HF

For agency and travel information visit our website
__________________________________________________

Transport Scotland, the national transport agency
Còmhdhail Alba, buidheann nàiseanta na còmhdhail

 

From: Ewan Jeffrey [mailto:BikeRail@spokes.org.uk]
Sent: 04 September 2015 12:05
Subject: EGIP Trains – Flexible Use Space

Hello

Thanks for your interest in what I was saying at last week’s Scotrail Cycle Forum about the benefits of there being more flexible space on Scotrail trains.

Spokes has made this case to Scotrail during the EGIP consultations, which has acknowledged the commercial and operation advantages, but is constrained by Transport Scotland requirements. We ask that this be addressed and reconsidered.

Buying a new train fleet for EGIP represents an opportunity for a step change in the accessibility of Scotland’s trains.  It can not be right that if you are travelling with a child in a pram or, say, golf clubs or a bicycle, it is often difficult and sometimes impossible to get on a train which otherwise has lots of empty seats.

This is a problem every day across Scotland, because our trains are furnished almost entirely with rigid inflexible seating.  More use of flexible space is a win-win situation as:

  • It provides fairer equality of access and a welcome to Scotland’s railway to a wider range of stakeholder groups, and
  • There are commercial and operational benefits.

For example: Families groups with a child in pushchair or pram, if they get on (and we have observed a family with pushchair being refused onto an off-peak train at Falkirk Grahamston) can seldom sit close to the pushchair. If the child is asleep, the parent must stand and it makes it harder for the group to sit together.

Our recommendation is that every coach of every train should have a multi-use flexible space. The every coach recommendation is important because families, understandably, get into the nearest coach and can’t easily scurry along the platform.

The EGIP Opportunity

The new EGIP trains are an opportunity to get this right from day one. We suggest that, as a minimum, there should be additional flexible use space at the No. 2 end of each centre coach (TPS1 and TS1), consisting of six comfortable lateral fold-up seats beside the luggage stack, in place of the proposed combination of six standard and two sub-optimal rigid seats (the latter being both narrower and with much reduced pitch). Enormous flexibility is achieved at the expense of only two sub-optimal seats per coach. Seats are never going to be comfortable to sit in!

Passenger Benefits:

Such space would afford a welcome for:

  • Commuters, as short distance seating or as standing space in the rush-hour. Flexible spaces are not a disadvantage to commuters on peak-time journeys. Scotrail has commented that groups of friends will currently often elect to stand and chat informally in the vestibules.
  • Families with prams and pushchairs, with the benefit of being able to also sit nearby. There are pushchair spaces on buses, why not on trains? Trains must be family friendly.
  • Elderly people with walking aids or shopping trolleys.
  • Golfers with golf clubs (common on East Lothian and Ayrshire trains)
  • Passengers with bulky luggage
  • Passengers with bicycles (giving extra flexibility).

This is consistent with the ITT call for EGIP rolling stock to have flexible space for pushchairs/prams and cycle storage facilities.

Commercial and Operational benefits:

As well as being helpful to passengers, there are also operational advantages to there being some flexible space in every coach, as:

  • Station dwell times are less likely to be extended by the need to find the “right” coach.
  • It helps to keep vestibules clear and improves circulation throughout the train.

There is also a valuable commercial case for more flexible space – as it encourages extra discretionary off-peak revenue.

Getting the EGIP internal specification right before the trains are built is a very important opportunity and we hope that Transport Scotland will give this serious consideration.  We look forward to hearing from you and would be pleased to discuss any aspect of it further.

Kind regards
Ewan

Ewan Jeffrey
Bike/Rail Liason
Spokes – Lothian Cycle Campaign

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