Thu 21 Jun 2018
I reserved space for two cycles on a train, but was only sent one tick
I made a telephone booking with GWR for two return train tickets, including reservations for two cycles, from London Paddington to Plymouth. My tickets arrived, but the reservation confirmation for the second bike was missing.
I rang GWR seven times and wrote once asking for the missing ticket. On each occasion it refused, claiming first that it was not possible to make an advance reservation for a bike (not true), then that it was not necessary (not true on a high-speed train) and “that they do not send bike tickets by post” (not true).
GWR then confirmed a reservation had been made for the second bike and that a ticket was not necessary as all I had to do was give the train guard the reservation number. That also turns out to be not true.
When I arrived at the station with my daughter and two bikes, the guard refused to allow us to board without a ticket for the second bike. I showed the reservation number. He said that wasn’t good enough.
Reluctantly, he allowed me to take both bikes on the understanding one of us would have to leave the train if someone with a “proper” bike ticket turned up.
This should serve as a warning to those who wish to travel with cycles. Although how they will get tickets from GWR, I do not know.
GWR prompted furious protests in 2016 when it began requiring cyclists to book a space for their bike in advance and to acquire a paper ticket to prove it.
The policy is onerous enough in theory – if you buy an open return you and your cycle won’t be able to board a train home unless you know what service you’ll be using well in advance. In practice, it can make rail travel impossible for cyclists.
GWR merely repeats the obvious: that reservations for high-speed services are mandatory and can be booked online, by phone, by app or at ticket offices and confirmation can be emailed.
What they won’t explain, despite repeated invitations to do so, is why your ticket never materialised by post or email and why you were given incorrect information.