It’s spring, the sun is shining (well, it was last weekend) and I’m back in London. Perfect weekend for a bike ride in the country.
I usually get South West Trains, Southern or Southeastern from London it’s possible to just turn up and take your bike on board; however, on this occasion I decided to travel further afield and went to Bath on First Great Western.
I’ve travelled InterCity before with my bike but only ever up to the Lake District so it provided a great opportunity to test how welcome bikes really are on the Great Western.
I travelled off-peak on a Friday across to Bath: the online guide states that reservations for off-peak trains are not compulsory but I didn’t want to take the risk of just turning up so I booked a space as part of my online ticket purchase. Collecting the tickets from a machine did make me laugh as I was printed 15 separate tickets for the return journey!
Now weighed down by this tome of tickets, I cycled slowly and safely to Paddington station.
My Experience as a Cyclists
First thing to note – the cycle storage area is at the far end of the train, next to the engine, so arrive early as you will have to walk your bike a long way down the platform!
Be prepared to lift your bike up onto the train – at both Paddington and Bath there was at least a 30 cm step up onto the train.
Having lifted your bike up onto the cycle rack, you then step back onto the platform and walk back along the train to the carriage that your seat reservation is in. Why doesn’t the reservation system assign cyclists a seat near the bike storage area?
On the return leg, I noticed a substantial amount of signage advising me where to wait with my bike at Bath station. This was handy and provided reassurance when waiting for the train.
My Experience as a Leisure Passenger
Whilst travelling on the train, I was impressed by the amount of announcements made by a real person. I didn’t see this person on the trip but I felt a little more cared for.
On the way to Bath, I was hoping to work on my laptop – using the power sockets and wifi provided on board, unfortunately, I had been assigned an airline style seat which was so close to the one in front that I felt like a T-Rex trying to type so close. The very short distance between seats also make the view somewhat limited as seen in the photo below.
On the way back I managed to take a seat at an unreserved table seat. Great! Luxurious space and a power socket right at the table for me to power my laptop and write this blog…….
Author: Liam Henderson