Avanti West Coast
London North Eastern Railway

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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...

 

Can I take my bike on the train?

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.

 

COVID-19 does not affect your ability to take a bike on board. The rules for bringing bikes still apply as normal. If you must travel, check our COVID-19 information page for the latest travel advice.

Bikes on trains

It’s important to note that when we talk about bikes on trains, we’re referring to push bikes with two-wheels – either static or folding.

Be aware that the following are not covered by the term bike:

  • tandems
  • tricycles

Bikes travel for free

In the UK, there’s no charge for taking your bike on the train, but depending on which train company you’re travelling with, you might need to reserve a space for your bike. Jump to our reservation section for more on this.

Not only is it free to travel with bikes on the train in the UK, many train stations offer secure bicycle parking that’s also free of charge. Some of the larger stations around the country are introducing Cycle Hubs which may require a one-off fee for access, which includes a key fob to store your bike there.

Peak-time bike restrictions

Many train companies have restrictions on bringing full-sized bikes on trains during Peak hours, especially for services heading into busy commuter destinations such as London or Edinburgh. The actual time varies between train companies, but Peak hours are usually classed as Monday to Friday, morning until 10:00 and then between 16:00-19:00 in the evenings. Bank holidays are excluded from this.

Fold-up bike are allowed on all trains at any time of day.

Fold-up bikes

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.

Some train companies have specific rules about bringing folding bikes onto their services, these include:

  • London Overground: a limit of one folding bike per vestibule area during Peak times.
  • Stansted Express and c2c: folding bikes should be carried onboarding a protective carrying case.
  • East Midlands Railway, LNER and South Western Railway: folding bikes must be stored as luggage.

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!

Which train companies require a bike reservation?

Depending on where you’re travelling in the UK, different train companies have different rules on bringing bikes on aboard.

Note: bikes can travel without a reservation, subject to space.

Note: reservations are not required on the majority of local services. Bikes are permitted, provided there’s space, and must be stored so they don’t block aisles or doors. On rare occasions, there may be no space available for your bike, in which case you’ll have to wait for the next service.

How to book your bike space on UK trains

While all bikes can travel on trains for free in the UK, you may need to book a space on board if it’s a full-sized bike as there’s limited space – usually 3 to 6 spaces per train. In general, trains with a seat reservation system also have a bike reservation system. These tend to be long-distance mainline and intercity services. 

At Trainline we can help you easily book a space for your bike as part of your train travel. There are two ways to do this, depending on whether you’ve already booked an Advance train ticket or not.

If you’ve already booked your ticket and want to add a bike space to your booking, call us on 0333 202 2222 (or 0044 333 202 2222 from outside the UK). For data protection, we can only talk to the lead booker. You can also email us.

If you’re making a new booking, call us on 0871 244 1545*.

*Calls cost 13p a minute plus your phone company’s access charge. Calls from outside the UK may cost more.

Finding the onboard bike carriage

Where bike reservations are compulsory or recommended, the train will have a dedicated cycle carriage onboard. Before your journey, we recommend you:

  1. Arrive at the station at least 10 minutes before your train is due to leave.
  2. Ask platform staff for the location of the cycle space, so you can board the correct carriage (you may need staff to let you in via a crew door on certain trains).

Bikes on trains in London

 

It’s possible to take your full-sized bike on trains around London, as long as you avoid travelling at Peak times. Peak times vary depending on the train company and station you’re travelling to, these include:

Mainline trains travelling into London: Monday to Friday, between 07:00-10:00 and 16:00-19:00.

London Overground: Monday to Friday, between 07:30-09:30 and 16:00-19:00 (except on public holidays). An exception to this rule is trains leaving Liverpool Street between 07:30-09:30 and arriving into Liverpool Street between 16:00-19:00.

London Underground and the DLR: Monday to Friday, between 07:30-09:30 and 16:00-19:00 (except on public holidays). Some Underground lines don’t allow bikes at any time, mostly through central London, this includes:

  • Victoria Line – the entire line
  • Northern Line – the entire line, except between High Barnet and East Finchley, Edgware and Colindale and Hendon Central and Golders Green
  • Jubilee Line – between Finchley Road and Canning Town
  • Central Line – between White City and Leyton and between Wanstead and Newbury Park
  • Piccadilly Line – between Oakwood and Barons Court and between Hounslow West and all Heathrow stops
  • Bakerloo Line – between Queen’s Park and Elephant and Castle
  • London Trams – the entire line

Transport for London: between Monday to Friday, between 07:30-10:00 on trains arriving into Paddington, 07:45-09:45 on trains arriving into Stratford or Liverpool Street, between 16:30-19:00 on trains leaving Paddington and between 16:30-18:30 on trains leaving Stratford or Liverpool Street, (except on public holidays).

Fold-up bikes are allowed at all times on all services.

Bikes on replacement bus services

Only fold-up bikes can be taken on rail replacement bus services. You can check in advance for any upcoming engineering work that might affect your journey, especially at the weekend. Otherwise it may be a long ride home. 

How are train companies encouraging travel by bike?  

As cycling becomes increasingly popular as both a sustainable mode of transport and a hobby, train companies around the UK are focusing on ways to make it easier to bring your bike onboard.

On LNER’s new Azuma trains, they’ve included more spaces for bike storage throughout the train than ever before (there’s even room for a Tandem up to 2.5m long if you remove the wheels).

Scotrail recently announced new bike-friendly carriages – able to store 20 bikes – will be coming to the West Highland Line from Glasgow to Mallaig next year, to help support the growth of cycle tourism in Scotland.

 

Bike policies on major train companies

Avanti West Coast

Reservations: compulsory on all services

Bike spaces: 4

Avanti welcome bikes on board, but there are normally just 4 bike spaces on board. You’re best to book in advance, but you can also book a bike space at the station.

East Midlands Railway

Reservations: compulsory on services to London and between Liverpool and Norwich

Bike spaces: 2

Bike reservations are compulsory on the busiest EMR routes, as indicated above. Bike spaces must be reserved ahead of time – they cannot be booked on the day.

South Western Railway

Reservations: compulsory on services to Salisbury/Exeter/Bristol

Bike spaces: at the discretion of train staff

South Western Railway admit bikes on a ‘first come, first served’ basis. Bikes are not permitted at peak commuter hours on trains to/from London.

Southeastern

Reservations: not mandatory

Bike spaces: at the discretion of train staff

Bikes are allowed on all Off-Peak Southeastern services, as well as weekends. Bikes are not permitted at peak commuter hours on trains to/from London.

Frequently asked questions

That depends on the type of bike you’re travelling with. Fold-up bikes are allowed on trains at all times of day, whereas full-sized bikes aren’t allowed on some trains during Peak times (weekday mornings and early evenings).

It’s free to take your bike on the train in the UK. You may have to reserve a bike space in advance on some services though.

You can reserve a bike space on a train with Trainline. There are different ways you can do this depending on whether you have already booked your ticket or not. Find out more in our reservations section.

Yes, many stations around the UK offer areas where you can securely leave your bike whilst you travel on the train. Just remember to bring a bike lock.

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