Trains connect some of the UK’s great cycle routes, putting you within easy reach of thrilling mountain bike tracks and peaceful journeys through the countryside. If you’re a commuter, taking your bike on the train is usually the cheapest and greenest way to travel. So first things first...
Yes, you can. Although the types of bikes allowed on trains can vary. Fully folding bicycles are allowed on all trains without restrictions or reservations. Reservations are sometimes required for full-size bicycles on certain services, and there are also restrictions on Peak-time travel.
Thinking about buying an Advance train ticket the next time you bring your bike on the train? This is a great way to secure a cheap fare and get organised ahead of time, but bear in mind that certain TOCs don’t allow you to reserve a space for your bike. On rare occasions, this might mean that there’s no space available for your bike, in which case you’ll have to wait for the next service. It’s important not to try and take your bike on board when there’s no space, as you could be obstructing doors or aisles, which causes a problem for other customers.
In the UK, there’s no charge for taking your bike on the train, but depending on which Train Operating Company (TOC) you’re travelling with, you might need to reserve a space for your bike
Not only is it free to travel with bikes on the train in the UK, many train stations have secure bicycle parking that’s also free of charge.
Commuters, take note… During peak travel times (weekdays 07:00 – 10:00 and 16:00 – 19:00), full-sized bikes aren’t allowed on trains to and from London. This includes all London Overground trains.
You also can’t bring full-sized bikes on weekday local rail services to and from Cardiff between 07:30 – 09:30 and 16:00 – 18:00.
Why not consider a fold-up bike? They’re allowed on all trains at any time of day.
Fully folding bikes with wheels up to 85cm are allowed on all trains – no restrictions and no need to reserve a space.
The only rule is that you must be able to carry the bike onto the train and fit it in the luggage rack.
Fully folding commuter bikes are very popular and are available from all major bike shops. An entry-level bike will cost you around £130 to £300. High-end folding bikes range from £500 – £1,000.
More expensive folding bikes are usually lighter to carry and quicker to fold away, which becomes important on busy trains.
Trainline tip: When buying a fold-up bike, practice collapsing and assembling it a few times at home first. You don’t want your first attempt to be on a busy station platform during rush hour!
While all bikes go on the train for free, sometimes you may need to book a space onboard for your full-sized bike. All trains have limited bike space, typically three to six spaces per service. In general, trains with a seat reservation system also have a bike reservation system. These tend to be long-distance mainline and intercity services.
Depending on where you travel, different operators have different rules. Bike reservations are compulsory on the following TOCs:
Bike reservations are recommended, but not compulsory, on the following TOCs, where bikes can travel without a reservation, subject to space:
Reservations aren’t available for operators not listed above and the majority of local services, for example, Northern rail services and Southern railways. On these trains, bikes are permitted, provided there’s space. They must be stored so they don’t block aisles or doors though.
Making a reservation:
Only fold-up bikes can be taken on rail replacement bus services. Check in advance to see if there’s any planned engineering work, especially if you’re travelling at the weekend, otherwise, it may be a long ride home!