All about touring, whether you are a local or visiting from overseas.
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Well, we've successfully moved to Big Smoke, Victoria, and all is swell. I'm riding a lot more for two reasons really; everything is further apart, and the weather is much more conducive to cycling.
Anyway, I'm taking a couple of friends on their first cycle tour in April. The plan is to ride towards Bright and get the train back to Melbourne from Wangaratta. We may try to get the train to Woodend to start the ride from there, if we don't just ride from home. Either way though, we'll need to try to get four loaded bikes onto the train. Two of them will be Bike Fridays, which can be "quick folded" to reduce their space, but it'd be better to just roll them on.
I know that you can take bikes onto V-line trains, and I know that it depends on space, but I was wondering if others could give some feedback on the likelihood of being told that there is not enough room for us all on any of these trains.
Pretty obvious but don't go during peak hour or on a train to Geelong after a Geelong AFL game, which I'm sure you already know.
You could try calling V- line and posing the question to them as well as any advice from people here.
Welcome to Victoria.
Did this last month when I was down there on Holidays. The train that goes through Wangaratta comes down from Albury, so it's loco hauled and has more room for bikes than the railmotors do. Apart from a bit of room in the connies compartment, the train I caught back also had a dedicated baggage car so there was no shortage of room for the couple of bikes that were put on in Wang. Not sure if the baggage car is normally in the consist on the Albury pass though.
Just sweat off that the train is not substituted for a bus (like what happened later in my trip from Bairnsdale)!
Albury trains always run the power-car now, next to the luggage compartment. It has room for quite a few bikes, and has good springs so you may get away without needing to secure the bikes with an occie-strap. The power-cars were put on to give more power to the new Albury service, and provide more bicycle space for people travelling the popular Murray to the Mountains Railtail.
Other V-line lines are not quite so good. There are two types of services. - loco-hauled trains with reservations and full snack-bar, and Intercity.
There are generally about 2-3 loco-hauled services per day that go out to the end of the line (Swan Hill, Warnnambool, Bairnesdale, Shepparton), and return. They have space for about 7 loaded bikes, or 12-13 bikes with panniers off, in the luggage compartment. You need to work with the conductor to ensure they put some baggage up on the drop-down shelves (they often just arrange it intricately on the floor), and sometimes the luggage compartment may be full up - rarely but more likely on weekends, long weekends and start of holidays. Unfortunately they take the view that luggage takes priority over bikes - even though my bike is luggage Despite this, in over thirty years of using the trains to get out to the country for touring I have been left standing on the platform watching my train leave only once.
Other services to closer terminating centres on each line are the Intercity (V'locity) trains, and at times the older Sprinter rail-motors. The Ballarat line to Ararat and Maryborough only have the V'locity service, no loco-hauled trains. The V'locity and Sprinter services run much more frequently on each line, usually about one every hour or so, and they have dedicated space for about 2-3 bikes per 2-car set. Happily they are running many of these in 4, 5 or 6-cars consists so more bikes can be carried. And many conductors are quite happy for you to use the two large spaces for wheelchairs in each 2-car set, if they are free (technically not allowed). If you miss a service due to bikes already aboard in the spaces, it is just about an hour wait for the next.
Calling V-line may give you misleading info. The people on customer inquiries often have limited contact with the train staff. Info is sometimes contradictory. The conductor is the person who ultimately runs the train.
With just 4 bikes you should not have very much of a problem - probably won't even need to fold up the folders. Smile at the conductor, be positive but be firm that you have a ticket and intend to travel. Coming home is usually not as bad as setting off from Melbourne.
No problems, glad to help. If you've got any other more specific questions just ask away. BTW, you are always welcome to come along to MBTC club meetings - every Thursday night at 8pm at Princes Park Bowling Club in North Carlton. Now that you're a local
Here's a picture of the bicycle space on a V-locity V-line train, just for posterity.
Bicycle space on V-locity train
This was a two car train, with this one space for bicycles. I'd seen some four car trains during the ride on the same route, presumably with two of these spaces. Behind me when I took the photo was space for wheelchairs/gophers with fold down seats. Perhaps you could get away with putting your bike here too, as long as they're not in use of course, and you're nice to the conductor.
Those Bike Fridays look like they've ridden through fertiliser and in Melbournes endemic precipitation
If you're fussy about stacking, sometimes you can fit four bikes in that space.
Most of the time the conductor will be quite OK for you to use the wheelchair space. I always use it on the proviso that if someone in a wheelchair needs to board I may need to get off and wait for the next train. These trains run almost every hour. Also on the Geelong and Ballarat lines they often run 5 or 6 car trains. We have found it quite possible to get up to 10-12 bikes on board.
It's been my experience that something less than 5% of conductors..... maybe closer to 2%..... are 'luggage nazis', enforcing the completely correct rule of "two bikes only per two-cars" to the letter. Only on one or two occasions have we been refused boarding. Once three of us had to disembark at Bendigo to wait an hour for the next train...... despite the fact there was plenty of room in the wheelchair space, and no-one boarded with a wheelchair between Bendigo and Melbourne
Sometimes even with the luggage compartment, things just don't work out
Frustrating yes, but 99% of the time you are able to travel quite OK. And we do find rail travel to be a very sociable way to get out to our ride destination
Trains like this, a German Inter-city train, would be really nice though
Just got back from Warrnambool last night (we rode the Port Fairy trail). Having a tandem we deliberately made sure we were early for loading and we were pleased to find that we could fit the tandem across the width of the train.(our suggestion to the conductor/guard which she accepted. Going down there were also six women four with loaded panniers and two newbies carrying very little, their mates carrying for them, also going to The 'Bool and Port Fairy. We stripped the tandem and were able to fit the four panniers in the overhead racks above our seats. The women left their panniers on. On the return the conductor had obviously dealt with tandems before because he said straightaway, "across the back, Mate, that's the only place it will fit"
If we ever travel on a Velocity we will have to unscrew the S&S couplers and load the bike in two halves.
hey mate, this is off topic, but I spent a day cycling in the area around Bright (my granny lives there now) and it is amazing country for cycling!
great scenery, heaps of cyclists everywhere, dedicated paths, quiet roads, and a couple of good micro breweries too! i highly rate the area.
Check out my practical cycling and cycle touring website: VELOPHILE AUSTRALIA
Hey il padrone...
Couldn't sent u a pm so....
"As a wanna-be Aussie (not really as I am happy with a Canadian passport), and a continual bicycle tourer of OZ, I thank you for the recent info you have given about V-line hauling touring bicycles.
Now to get to Perth and bicycle east.... to Adelaide ....
Ah, sorry. I got rather P'ed off with a few insulting posters back in early April, and as I was about to head overseas I disabled PM's to avoid any further contact. Some individuals have been sent to the great "foes" bin in the sky
Glad to help you out.
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