AQW 25264/11-15

Mr Daithí McKay
Sinn Féin
North Antrim

Tabled Date: 04/09/2013
Answered On Date: 23/09/2013
Priority Written: No

To ask the Minister for Regional Development if he has any plans to allow cyclists to bring their bicycle on to trains at all times.

Translink’s current cycling policy has been in place since 2005 and was developed following consultation with rail customers and key stakeholders. Translink has agreed to discuss these matters going forward with relevant stakeholders and did so recently when the Class 4000 trains were introduced.
Given the significant increase in rail passenger journeys since the policy was introduced, and the peak loadings carried before 09:30 each day, Northern Ireland Railways do not envisage a relaxation of the existing policy, as to do so would be at a significant detriment to current passengers. Furthermore in comparing its policy to that of National Rail, Translink is in line with other GB operators with regard to restrictions to cycle carriage before 09:30/10:00.
A comparison of the National Rail Cycle policy with that of Translink highlights the following:
Like NIR, GB operators either apply restrictions to cycle carriage before 09:30/10:00 hours and during pm peak or alternatively make reservations compulsory.
Like NIR, GB operators generally carry cycles free of charge.
Most GB operators have a maximum cycle capacity of 2-4 compared to NIR’s 4-8 cycles per train.
On very early trains and on contra-commute trains, i.e. trains operating out of Belfast in the mornings, Translink do already regularly carry passengers with bicycles. This is done at the Conductor's discretion and Conductors have been briefed to accept cycles where capacity permits, i.e. no expectation of standing passengers in the cycle area. However the majority of trains to Belfast operating before 08:00 are already carrying significant numbers of passengers. For information there are no travel restrictions placed on the number of folding bicycles which may be carried on trains. These may be carried at any time, including prior to the normal 09.30 restriction. In addition there are currently 208 bicycle storage spaces across the rail network. Currently this is more than adequate to meet demand.
In general, evening service loadings are more spread out than morning services. This means that NIR will generally seek to accept bikes without restriction in the evening commute. It is Translink’s intention that they will seek to maintain this position where possible.
I am fully supportive of measures to facilitate cyclists but believe that the Translink policy has merit when we consider the overall needs of rail passengers.