May 2017

Highlands & N.E. bike-rail cuts: Parliament debate, May 24

The motion calling for government action on the reductions in promised bike space on the new HST trains to Aberdeen and Inverness has been signed by MSPs from 4 of the 5 parties in Parliament.  As a result, it is to be debated in the Main Chamber on Weds 24 May…

There has been huge concern that the promised revolution in bike carriage on trains to the north from the central belt – for leisure, tourism and commuting – is turning from a bang into a whimper, or worse.    From an initial promise of 20 spaces, we are now down to a pathetic 2 spaces at all intermediate stations (e.g. Aviemore) plus 6 more if your bike is travelling from one terminus to the other.

The level of concern about bike/rail capacity is indicated by the fact that our tweet has now been retweeted nearly 100 times – the second highest ever – and only surpassed by our previous revelations about bike spaces on the West Highland lines (still unresolved as far as we know).

Historical precedent!! – Click for full article on pages 1 & 8 of Spokes 68

The background to the HST125 saga is here and here.

Although we do not know the full reasons behind the retreat, there are indications that one problem is the cash to convert some redundant toilets into bike spaces – otherwise these spaces will be locked away and just transport air.

This problem could surely be resolved by a small cash injection from Transport Scotland.  Way back in 1998 the Scottish Administration at that time granted ScotRail £150K to increase bike spaces on the Class 158 trains between Scottish cities and on the West Highland line Class 156s – the sum was matched by ScotRail and by the train leasing company, thus providing nearly £0.5m for this work.  Surely the present government could do something similar?

We thank you if you are one of the Spokes members and other concerned citizens who have already emailed their MSPs about HST125 bike capacity.

As a result, nearly 40 MSPs, from 4 of the 5 parties in the Scottish Parliament, have signed the motion by North East Scotland MSP Liam Kerr, calling for the Scottish Government to bring pressure on Transport Scotland and on ScotRail.   Disappointingly, not a single SNP MSP has yet signed the motion, despite the fact that they comprise roughly half the Parliament.

The fact that MSPs from 4 of the 5 parties have signed means that there has to be a Parliamentary debate.


  • The debate will be at 1.30pm on Wednesday 24 May.   It is open to the public, so anyone interested is welcome to go along and sit in the public gallery – this will also help show support for the motion.   If you go, try to turn up 15 mins in advance as you have to go through security.
  • If you go, why not email one or more of your MSPs to ask if you can meet them for a few minutes before or after the debate, to put your point of view on this (or any other matter that concerns you).
  • If you can’t attend, you can watch on Parliament TV.
  • Whether or not you attend, if bike/rail capacity concerns you, email your MSPs – ask them to attend the debate and to raise your concerns.  You could give them the link to our two articles above as background.
  • Retweet our tweets about the issue and about the debate.




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