Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Cycling On The Rails

The bike park at Oxford railway station

I was in Oxford for a couple of days earlier this week to teach on a course. Deciding to go by train rather than car and knowing the hassle of getting into Manchester centre in the morning and Oxford centre in the evening and also having stayed at the hotel previously, I thought it would be good to cycle to and from the train stations and between the course centre and the hotel. Of course that meant I needed to reserve a bicycle space for the train journeys but that isn't a problem is it?

Cross Country Trains says on its website:

"You’re advised to reserve a space for it before you travel – bike reservations are free and can be made at the same time you buy your train ticket.
On all our trains we have two reservable bike spaces. Bikes for which no reservation has been made will be accepted on a first come, first served basis and subject to space being available."

I booked my train ticket one month before travelling but was unable to reserve a bike space due to a 'technical error' on the website. I then rang the helpline to book one and was told all the spaces were booked for both legs of the journey. As I couldn't risk not being able to bring my bike back I reluctantly decided I would have to forgo the bicycle element of the trip.

And the result? Well despite giving it an hour on the Manchester Metrolink tram to travel 6 miles I only just made the station after being crushed in an emergency stop and on the return in Oxford I made it with only 2 mins left thanks to a taxi that was 20 mins late - a journey I could have done in half the time on a bicycle.

And what was really annoying was there was a completely empty bike rack on the carriage! Thanks a lot Cross Country Trains.

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