Virgin trains bad attitude towards cyclists

A quick google search shows that I am not the only one with complaints to make about Virgin Trains as an article written just two days ago in The Daily Express clearly illustrates.

Being the third time that I have come to blows with Virgin Train staff over the simple matter of wanting to travel with my bicycle I have finally decided to put pen to paper and make a formal complaint.

Now I understand that when there are only four bicycle places on a train (don’t even get me started on how ridiculous this is when there are always at least three completely empty first class coaches) there is some need for a reservation system to give priority to those who have booked. Fine. But to stop two bikes getting on an empty bike carriage on a direct service with no other stops is just ludicrous!

After being told on the platform by a rude Virgin ticket attendant not to get on the train and instead – to remain stranded in the rain 100 miles from home? I put our two bikes on the train anyway, sat down and the next thing I know the attendant on the platform had instructed the train manager to evict us from the carriage and so it unfolded:

An example of poor cycle storage provision from photos/bike_hanging.JPG

Train Manager “did you just put your bikes on the train”

Me “yes”

Train Manager “If you haven’t got a reservation then you have to get off the    train”

Me “but there are no other bikes on this train and its now a direct service to    London”

Train Manager “but how did you know there are any other bikes there! What  would you have done if there were?!”

Me “If there were I wouldn’t have got on the train, there aren’t and there won’t  be. I am not getting off this train.”

Train Manager admits defeat, other passengers offer solemn smiles showing  their support. I sit back down feeling shaky but pleased at my tiny victory.

If Virgin Trains really “firmly believe that rail has a clear role to play in sustainable transport, and want to lead the charge.” then I suggest they modernise their staffs views and their trains, to make room for more bikes.



7 thoughts on “Virgin trains bad attitude towards cyclists

  1. Virgin isn’t the only train system in the world with this problem. Amtrak in the US is just as bad (if not worse). And in Austria earlier this year a conductor slammed the door right in my face as I tried to board with my bicycle. You can read the full story about that incident here:

    Like you said, there are usually a number of cars that are completely empty, yet they have a problem squeezing a single bike or two onto the train.

    Now that I think about it, I could probably fill an entire book with bad train stories. Hmm…..

  2. After experiencing Virgin Trains on my trip this November, which unfortunately seems to be the only company operation the London-Penrith journey, I’m not surprised to read that they get that many complaints.

    Not only was the carriage too narrow for two people and their baggage to pass each other… there were three almost empty first class coaches, and not enough, horribly crowded second class coaches. In addition to that, the sink in the toilet was flooding, spilling water everywhere in said toilet and the staff didn’t seem to care.

  3. I am not surprised that people are so angry with Virgin trains. I just had a nightmare experience trying to book 2 bicycle spaces on their trains. Here are the order of events as they unfolded – if it hadn’t cost me £74 it would have almost been comical.

    1) I called Virgin Train Premium Rate line to book tickets. After a wait of 15 minutes I was connected to operator Varun Dwivedi at the New Delhi Office.

    2) I was informed that 2 bike spaces were available on the service I wished to travel on.

    3) I completed my booking online, purchasing tickets for 2 adults at a cost of £74.00.

    4) I was then informed that no bike spaces were available, despite having been informed with absolute certainty that there were.

    5) I was connected to supervisor Ritesh. I was told I cannot have any refund.

  4. Similar circumstances here. Arrived at Glasgow station at 4am with bike and was told I could not put it on the train as I didn’t have a reservation (true) and was told to book my bike on and get onto the next train. I enquired if there were any other bikes booked on the train for the duration of my journey, to Oxenholme, The Lake District and was told there weren’t. I then asked what the problem was with taking my bike onto a train, having arrived early, for the first train of the day, when no other luggage/ bike/ occupied a presumably large space in the guard’s van. The problem I was told was that it wasn’t reserved onto the train. A lengthy circular argument ensued. Eventually I threatened to take my quick release wheels off and take it on as luggage. The supercilious Glaswegian b**** of a train ‘manager’ then backs down and I go home.

  5. I have problems with rude staff as I pass through Queen Street Station in Glasgow frequently. If I have a bicycle with me, as I do most days, I’m treated like scum; if I wear a suit and walk on I get no reaction. We should film these incidents and put them online.

  6. Filming is a good idea! Appealing to logic and reason doesn’t work with ‘computer says no’ muppets, but ego-defence, i.e. embarrassing them into stopping their own mental pain, might. Selfish twats.
    I was trying to book a bike place (I don’t live next to London Euston Station strangely-enough so I can’t go in to do it in person and even if I did, my internet-booked tickets aren’t available for two hours meaning 11pm so it’s a no-go. Of course I’d be earlier if I hadn’t been messed-around by the national rail booking system two days in a row, but that’s another story.
    No, I just want to ring up and book a bike place. Online? No.
    After years of complaints, there’s still no explanation as to why this can’t be a part of the website. It’s part of other train companies’ booking websites (except I couldn’t even book a seat with Chiltern and one can’t book a bike place without a seat reservation, so a-gambling we a-go).
    No, someone must be bribing Virgin to be part of this anti-cyclist culture we hold so dear in the UK. Perhaps oil shareholders?
    Who knows, but logic and reason are not running the show here.
    I will now have to get up about half an hour earlier for an early train anyway, to go and ‘beg’ for a space on the train for my bike (and what about letting me know before booking if there is one or not?)
    If this isn’t a contrived attempt to be anti-cyclist, whilst pretending to be ‘green’ and ‘socially-responsible’, then I don’t know what one would actually look like. Probably more cycle-friendly, in fact.

  7. Incidentally, their booking system is only open until 4pm on Saturdays. Or is that their Customer Relations team. I’m not sure, since I physically can’t ring the 0871 number nor the 0845 one, so literally would be without the ability to book a bicycle, all due to greedy 0871 revenue-generation for a service that should be performable online.
    21st-Century Britain, gotta love it. Since the capitalists obviously hate it and hate cyclists.

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