Advice on taking bikes on regional trains

Advice on taking bikes on regional trains

Postby VRE » Tue Mar 26, 2013 6:49 am

I have several questions here, as I've never taken a bicycle on a Victorian train, and the V-Line web pages don't fully answer all these questions:
  1. What's the difference between V-Line and Countrylink? (is the latter for longer, e.g. interstate, distances?);
  2. The V-Line web pages don't mention bicycles in the ticket-ordering section, so do I need to place the order by phone, instead?
  3. Is there any way to get a guarantee that my bicycle will be allowed on the train? This is important, because I don't particularly want to travel from e.g. Ringwood North where I live to Melbourne's Southern Cross Station, only to find that the conductor refuses to let me on with my bike :roll: . Will there be any such guarantee in the future, or will cyclists continue to be discriminated against?;
  4. Which carriages allow bicycles, and how many per carriage? Do the conductors allow flexibility and (dare I mention it) common-sense here, or do they strictly enforce a set of rules to the letter? (OK, I think I answered my own question there - it's the carriages with a bicycle symbol on the side, but how many per carriage?);
  5. If a train trip is replaced by rail-replacement coaches, do I have the option of canceling (since a non-folding bike, according to the web pages, can't be carried onto a coach, and its luggage area may not have enough room for my bike)?
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by BNA » Tue Mar 26, 2013 7:25 am

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Re: Advice on taking bikes on regional trains

Postby WestcoastPete » Tue Mar 26, 2013 7:25 am

Hi Vancomycin Resistant Enterococcus (I can't help think that when I see VRE).

I asked a similar question here recently. I think some of the answers will help answer your questions.
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Re: Advice on taking bikes on regional trains

Postby TraceyG » Tue Mar 26, 2013 7:44 am

I travel on the Gippsland line and it is at the conductor's discretion. Best to avoid busy times and you will have a better chance of getting your bike on. Trains with guards vans will require the conductor to take your bike and put it on and off for you and carry it in the van (I get nervous when my Angel is out of sight!)

The carriages with the bike symbols have a designated area with velcro straps to hold bikes in place. You need to work with other cyclists to get your bikes on and off appropriately.

Good luck.
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Re: Advice on taking bikes on regional trains

Postby KenGS » Tue Mar 26, 2013 8:53 am

CountryLink is the NSW service with different rules. IIRC bikes need to be boxed on Countrylink
On VLine you don't need a ticket for your bike.
Whilst there are no guarantees that your bike will travel I've never had a problem even on slightly crowded trains.
You are most likely to have a problem on the smaller services where the bike travels in the passenger car. Thre is room for two bikes in the designated carriage(s) of which I think there are two in a two or three car set.
For the intercity services the bike goes into the baggage car.

Not long ago I turned up to Southern Cross heading to Wangaratta and found that my train had been converted to a bus even though I had checked the website before booking to ensure I was getting a train.
I spoke to the driver and he was happy to take my bike. As it turned out it fitted neatly in the baggage area standing up (just - its a size 52).

Check the Vline website to ensure there is no plan for a bus service. After that the best approach is to not stress about it. Just turn up and if things go awry, act all innocent and look worried to get a sympathetic response. It will normally turn out ok.
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Re: Advice on taking bikes on regional trains

Postby Mulger bill » Tue Mar 26, 2013 9:14 am

Be nice to the Connies, they're all my colleagues and many of them are friends. Number of bikes aboard is their call and if you upset them they might just decide that yours is one too many.

No fixed rules regarding numbers in railmotors tho' 3 per rack on Vlocitys isn't a problem, main thing is not to block doors or access to equipment or facilities. There's one rack per two car VL and two per three car VL.
Sprinters have nominal room for two per car, but can squeeze four if the riders know how to stack neatly (or more if they have had the luggage corral retrofit.)
Loco hauled services they go in the van, again, be nice to the Connie and it should be right.

If a roadmotor service is replacing a regular train service cancelled on the day then they are (space permitting) required to carry your bike, (Be nice to the driver). Scheduled runs to cover lines closed for repair etc are officially a no no for bikes but I've only been knocked back once in my time.
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Re: Advice on taking bikes on regional trains

Postby il padrone » Tue Mar 26, 2013 10:00 am

V-line is for rural Victorian travel. Countrylink is NSW rail travel, mainly Victorians will use it for Melb-Sydney on the XPT service. Bikes need to be booked in advance, pay ~$20, boxed and only 2 or 3 per train for this service (ie. absolutely crap, take a Greyhound coach instead).

Most of the other questions you have are well answered in the link WestcoastPete gave. Generally, if you are travelling solo or with just one or two friends you would be very unlucky to be knocked back from travel. Unfortunately there are often track works and bus-replacements (like many lines this Easter :shock: go figure??) and V-line has this appalling policy of denying bicycle carriage on buses*, even when the bus has acres of space in the luggage bays :x


* MB - from the PTV website on rail service alterations:

No pets or bicycles allowed on replacement coaches.


A friendly bus-driver may let you on coming home, but I doubt you'll get too much leeway if boarding at Southern Cross.
Last edited by il padrone on Tue Mar 26, 2013 10:08 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Advice on taking bikes on regional trains

Postby VRE » Tue Mar 26, 2013 10:06 am

il padrone wrote:... Bikes need to be booed in advance ...

Yeah, I get that sometimes :wink:

Seriously, though: thanks for the tips, people. I'd dearly love to ride the Alps again, as I thoroughly enjoyed doing the 7 Peaks Challenge recently. The highlight of this was doing 4 peaks in 2 days: Falls Creek and Mt Buffalo on the first day, then both sides of Mt Hotham the second, and since then I've just wanted to go back. I don't (and probably never will) have a driver's licence, so trains are my best option.
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Re: Advice on taking bikes on regional trains

Postby barefoot » Tue Mar 26, 2013 12:44 pm

KenGS wrote:You are most likely to have a problem on the smaller services where the bike travels in the passenger car. Thre is room for two bikes in the designated carriage(s) of which I think there are two in a two or three car set.
For the intercity services the bike goes into the baggage car.


Small corrections to the above: only locomotive-hauled trains have a baggage car for the bikes to go in. They tend to service the more remote parts of the state - arguably beyond the "cities".

More central parts of the state have the "Sprinter" type trains, where passengers sit on top of the engines. The Ballarat ( / Arrarat / Maryborough) line only handles Sprinters, no loco-hauled. I'm not sure what hardware they send up the Northern line.

The bike corral on a Sprinter has space for about 4 bikes, although you can usually get away with jamming a few more in if you all agree and pack them in carefully.

On Ballarat services, the bike spaces tend to fill up at about the same time as seats. Peak hour trains are standing room only, and I've often seen people standing in the entry vestibules with their bikes. Probably against the rules, but they let it slip.

The only time I've been on a loco-hauled service was going to Traralgon. It felt a bit weird handing my bike over to a random railways person and hoping he remembered to get it out of the baggage van at the right stop (the baggage van was at the front of the train, then first class, then peasants like me right down the back, far away from my bike). But it worked okay.

Once I didn't look carefully enough at the timetable and ended up needing to catch a _scheduled_ coach service from Southern Cross to Ballarat... not even a replacement.
And it just happened to be the day I was towing a trail-a-bike that I had just picked up for my daughter.
And, by the time I had figured out that my "train" was departing from the bus terminal instead of the train platforms, I arrived just as the driver was about the shut the door and go.
And yet, he was very accommodating, and let me put both of my bikes into the luggage bins under the bus.

According to the official rules, Vline reserve the rights to be very dickish about refusing to carry bikes without notice. In my experience, individual employees are more likely to be extremely helpful unless you're dickish to them first. I can't imagine VRE being dickish to anybody, so I'm sure he'll be fine. If things start looking like being a problem, work with them to sort it out, don't get belligerent. Conductors aren't out to make anybody's life difficult - especially not their own - and those poor buggers get enough conflict wtihout going looking for it.

Although I definitely agree it would be nice to get assurance before committing to a trip.

tim
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Re: Advice on taking bikes on regional trains

Postby il padrone » Tue Mar 26, 2013 2:10 pm

barefoot wrote:Small corrections to the above: only locomotive-hauled trains have a baggage car for the bikes to go in. They tend to service the more remote parts of the state - arguably beyond the "cities".

More central parts of the state have the "Sprinter" type trains, where passengers sit on top of the engines. The Ballarat ( / Arrarat / Maryborough) line only handles Sprinters, no loco-hauled. I'm not sure what hardware they send up the Northern line.

All of the loco-hauled services do also stop at most of the main stations along the way, not just the further destinations. Ballarat is unusual in not having any loco-hauled service run out there - a legacy of Kennett who closed off the whole line beyond Ballarat.

The Northern line to Albury now has excellent bicycle transport in the power-cars that are attached to all the longer distance services (ie. beyond Seymour). These cars have space for ~15-20 bikes so you should have no problem at all, VRE (but no trains over this Easter :( ).

barefoot wrote:The only time I've been on a loco-hauled service was going to Traralgon. It felt a bit weird handing my bike over to a random railways person and hoping he remembered to get it out of the baggage van at the right stop (the baggage van was at the front of the train, then first class, then peasants like me right down the back, far away from my bike). But it worked okay.

We always load the bikes ourselves. If they go into the guards compartment check that the conductor considers lowering the shelf to get other luggage off the floor and make more space. If there are several bikes aboard, 'top & tail' them. An ocker strap to hold the bike and/or a brake-strap may be handy. Let the conductor know what station you are getting off at. Your bikes and gear will always be quite secure with the train staff.
Last edited by il padrone on Wed Mar 27, 2013 10:03 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Advice on taking bikes on regional trains

Postby Mulger bill » Wed Mar 27, 2013 8:19 am

il padrone wrote:* MB - from the PTV website on rail service alterations:

No pets or bicycles allowed on replacement coaches.


A friendly bus-driver may let you on coming home, but I doubt you'll get too much leeway if boarding at Southern Cross.


That's policy, not reality :P Like I said, be nice to the Connie and/or bus driver and 99% of the time you'll be sweet.
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Re: Advice on taking bikes on regional trains

Postby wizdofaus » Wed Apr 10, 2013 8:31 am

VRE wrote:
il padrone wrote:... Bikes need to be booed in advance ...

Yeah, I get that sometimes :wink:

Seriously, though: thanks for the tips, people. I'd dearly love to ride the Alps again, as I thoroughly enjoyed doing the 7 Peaks Challenge recently. The highlight of this was doing 4 peaks in 2 days: Falls Creek and Mt Buffalo on the first day, then both sides of Mt Hotham the second, and since then I've just wanted to go back. I don't (and probably never will) have a driver's licence, so trains are my best option.


Yeah I've looked at how I'd be able to manage using just V/Line - e.g. it looks possible to take the first Saturday service to Wangaratta, make it to the top of Mt Buffalo and back just in time for the last train back. But you can forget about Falls, Hotham and certainly Buller unless you're prepared to do a lot of "just getting there" riding and staying the night somewhere.
But as it happens I now have the weekend of the 20th/21st entirely to myself and a car (and bike rack) at my disposal, which I'd like to take advantage of if the weather seems OK...but don't really want it to do it on my own, so if you're interested we could arrange something - happy to pick you up from somewhere north of the city.
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Re: Advice on taking bikes on regional trains

Postby VRE » Fri Apr 12, 2013 8:42 am

wizdofaus wrote:
VRE wrote:
il padrone wrote:... Bikes need to be booed in advance ...

Yeah, I get that sometimes :wink:

Seriously, though: thanks for the tips, people. I'd dearly love to ride the Alps again, as I thoroughly enjoyed doing the 7 Peaks Challenge recently. The highlight of this was doing 4 peaks in 2 days: Falls Creek and Mt Buffalo on the first day, then both sides of Mt Hotham the second, and since then I've just wanted to go back. I don't (and probably never will) have a driver's licence, so trains are my best option.


Yeah I've looked at how I'd be able to manage using just V/Line - e.g. it looks possible to take the first Saturday service to Wangaratta, make it to the top of Mt Buffalo and back just in time for the last train back. But you can forget about Falls, Hotham and certainly Buller unless you're prepared to do a lot of "just getting there" riding and staying the night somewhere.
But as it happens I now have the weekend of the 20th/21st entirely to myself and a car (and bike rack) at my disposal, which I'd like to take advantage of if the weather seems OK...but don't really want it to do it on my own, so if you're interested we could arrange something - happy to pick you up from somewhere north of the city.

My apologies, I can't manage it on that weekend, but I do appreciate the offer :) .
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