Cycling in Sydney Australia
So, my friend and I are booked into CountryLink from Sydney to arrive at a small station out in woop-woop. Seeing neither of us have a vehicle, we booked in our bikes. We were already grating at the extra $50 in transport fees, the hour-earlier departure, and the stupid business of having to box a bike for travel (it takes up much more room!), only to be told that since X is an unmanned station, no one will be there to hand over a box for the trip home.
So, the employee suggested either lug the boxes the 50km to the holiday destination and back (on a bicycle), or pay an extra $40 to ride the extra 20km to a manned station so the *#$*&#$*& twats can give me a box. My rule of not lashing out at an employee for their employer's lousy policy was seriously being tested.
Honestly, how can a long distance travel-service have such massive oversight? Airlines are more accommodating! And that's saying something. Not to mention there's only 3 bike spots on any XPT service. People can put prams on without charge or booking beforehand, so space can't be that hard-pressed. Some courtesy should be extended to cyclists too, as in many cases it can be a similarly essential item. Not all of us drive.
If anyone's ever been on the Bomaderry-Kiama service, or any Cityrail service, they'd know how easy it is to put a metal hook on the wall or roof. Is there any way to put forward this suggestion en masse? From looking at other's similar experiences it would make life so much easier for cyclists.
Alternatively, can anyone think of a loophole to get around this bullshite? I have a big padded carrying bag, though we both have rigid-frame bikes which only come down to 70cm length at the least.
I had exactly the same problems with Countrylink, probably about thirty years ago! I also had a mate who fought a long fight with letters to C'link and the minister etc. It seems C'link hasn't kept up with the rest of the world, but maybe if it had tried to, there wouldn't be any country trains today!
My solution then, and still, was a folding bike (a "Picnica") in a bag - taken on board at the last minute so nobody had any time to spot it, argue about it, or call any reinforcements. At 140cm long it wasn't exactly unobtrusive, but it always worked. Not the perfect answer to your problem, but worth developing perhaps.
Good to see you Bach, STT.
This has been a serious problem ever since the late '80s Greiner government introduced XPTs, which then offered precisely zero bike accommodation, and took all useful country trains off the rails. I frequently used to go bicycle touring all over NSW using country trains until that happened. I almost never travel in country trains today.
No government in the intervening period has ever made any meaningful improvement to enable a family to travel with bicycles. A cynic (who, me?) might think that the number limits and boxing requirements are attempts to discourage use of the train system so that it can eventually be closed completely to passengers simply to save money.
The one benefit if that happened might be that the replacement buses, which seem to have capacious luggage bays, could take bikes unboxed, though that might be at the whim of the driver. One coach driver I quizzed about taking tandem bikes on the bus commented that he had never carried them, but that could change if he had a "gas axe". I wasn't sure if he was really joking...
How surely doth the system trieth to fixeth what ain'teth broke. Ya, a folding bike might be a nice addition to the family, I'll look into that. Feel so naked without my precious wheels.
We decided ditched the train after all, and are borrowing a friend's ute. Long drive but at least we'll get to enjoy the coastal views, stow the bikes, and put the $50 towards essential Chinese degustation :)
Thanks for the advice!
your taxes at work
The NSW Bike Plan had some mention of working with the rail authorities to improve carriage of bicycles, but it seems things are much the same. A guard tried to prevent a group of cyclists getting on a Goulburn rattler at Campbelltown recently, but they just ignored him politely and got on, parking bikes in a nearly empty carriage.
On the other hand, a guard at Lithgow once allowed a horde of mtbers and tourers onto a train back to Sydney, saying they could all pile into the last carriage and he would announce that other passengers should get on the front carriages.
Yes, it is amazing what good can be done, so easily, if people simply thing of others.
I travelled Countrylink last year for the first and DEFINITELY the last time. It's clearly designed to wither away by enraging all who attempt to use it, not just cyclists. This year I tried to dissuade distant relatives visiting from China from using it and they couldn't understand why I was so down on something so basic and crucial to them as an intercity train service. They started to get the picture when they got the cost amount and it really hit home when they were told on arrival at the station that they were required to board a bus for 30 kilometres then change to a train with no sleepers. This country...
if its actually unmanned, I'd take a cheap cable lock, and lock the boxes to something that isn't on the platform proper, and preferably is somewhat under shelter so the boxes aren't soggy when you get back.
I'd also suggest you bail up an attendant with 20 minutes to go to make sure that (a) it stops there, and (b) they take your bikes off.
note that I used the service this weekend to go to wauchope and back, and despite me telling them that I was going back this sunday, they'd thrown the box out (so it had to get fetched from where it was thrown, fortunately without getting wet and ruined).
Ahh and Bless their cotton socks they even supplied instructions and extra padded straps for those of us with motorise bicycles. then let us bikers ( cyclist too ) on first and off first before the hordes started their engines.
From the NSW Legislative Assembly's State and Regional Development Committee's March 2014 report - "Inter-Regional Public Transport" -
6.60 The Committee considers that there is great scope for NSW TrainLink to capitalise
on the growing bicycle tourism market, and to therefore increase its own customer base and grow tourism to regional NSW. An effective way which NSW TrainLink would achieve this is by making it easier for passengers to carry bicycles on its rail services.
6.61 Consequently, the Committee recommends that NSW TrainLink considers
enhancing its capacity to carry bicycles on its services and simplifies the procedure for using this facility.
The Committee recommends that NSW TrainLink considers enhancing its capacity to carry bicycles on its services and simplifies the procedure for using this facility.
Comment - All hand-wringing, no directives. There is a new thread on this report on this site.