CTC calls for talks with Eurostar over controversial cycle-carriage plans

Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo has used Twitter to say Eurostar are sending out the wrong signal Picture: Bertrand Delanoe from Flickr Creative Commons

CTC calls for talks with Eurostar over controversial cycle-carriage plans

CTC has made a direct approach to Eurostar asking for a meeting to discuss the high-speed train provider’s controversial plans to make cyclists dismantle and box up their bikes to travel.

Despite pressure from leading politicians, European cycling bodies and more than 8,500 individuals, Eurostar is refusing to budge over its proposal – which will come into force on Sunday 1 November.

Currently, cyclists can pay a £30 fee to take a complete bicycle on Eurostar via a registered luggage system. From 1 November, however, they will be forced to dismantle their cycle and box it up using the same service – a move CTC Chief Executive Paul Tuohy believes would treat them as “third-class passengers”.

Alerted by CTC to the proposed change, ECF (European Cyclists’ Federation) slammed the move in a letter sent to Eurostar CEO Nicolas Petrovic on Tuesday 13 October, which was also signed by French, Belgian, German and Dutch cycling bodies

The following day, CTC launched its multi-lingual ‘Zero stars for Eurostar’ online action which invited supporters to write to Mr Petrovic and express their dismay at the proposed policy. In just over a day, more than 6,500 people used this tool – a figure which has now passed 8,500 and is still climbing.

MPs who are members of the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group have announced their support for the campaign, while the Mayors of both London and Paris have criticised the proposed shift in cycle-carriage policy, indicating it undermines Eurostar’s ‘green pretensions’.

We believe entering into a dialogue with us is the least Eurostar can do considering how much their proposal will inconvenience cyclists."

David Murray, CTC Head of Communications and Campaigns

One week after the campaign launch, David Murray, CTC’s Head of Communications and Campaigns, said: “Despite the public outcry and support for our campaign from many leading politicians, Eurostar seem stubbornly determined not to shift from their stance.

“We have contacted Eurostar asking if we can sit down and have a sensible, face-to-face meeting about this proposal. We believe entering into a dialogue is the least they can do bearing in mind how much controversy it has caused and how much it will inconvenience cyclists travelling to and from the Continent – passengers who have paid good money but will be getting a third-class service.”

A day after the 'Zero stars for Eurostar' campaign got underway, London Mayor Boris Johnson MP said he would write to Eurostar urging them not to proceed with the planned changes.

A well-known cyclist himself, the Mayor said: “I am writing to Eurostar asking them not to end their simple, effective bike carriage service ‎used by thousands a year. It is a backward step ‎which undermines Eurostar's green pretensions."

MPs who are members of the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group released a statement on Friday 16 October, also criticising Eurostar for its “anti-cyclist” stance.

Ruth Cadbury, co-chair of the APPCG, said: “Eurostar as a self-avowed champion for sustainable transport should be looking to make cycle-rail integration easier, not more difficult. We’re seeing a surge in cycling across the UK, and in EU high level discussions are being held on cycling as a transport solution.

"I see myself as an ordinary person who enjoys cycling but doesn't do it every day. Eurostar’s proposed changes would put me off from using their service, as I am sure it will for others and those who use their cycle as a mobility aid. Eurostar should listen to the thousands of people concerned by the changes and consider an alternative solution.”

Lord Berkeley, Secretary of the APPCG, said: “There are already enough inherent difficulties within the Eurostar service for those travelling with their cycle without these proposed changes making things more awkward.

“I can only urge Eurostar to rethink their policy and look to engage with CTC and the European Cycling Federation to find an amicable solution for all their users.”

Eurostar as a self-avowed champion for sustainable transport should be looking to make cycle-rail integration easier, not more difficult."

Ruth Cadbury, co-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group

The Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, turned to Twitter on Monday to accuse Eurostar of sending out the wrong signal as the French capital prepares to host the UN Climate Change Conference (COP21) between November 30 and December 11.

The Mayor’s tweet read: “Disassemble your bike to take the @Eurostar? ... Wrong signal in the weeks of #COP21. #Paris Supporting soft mobility” @Anne_Hidalgo

(Translation from the French original: Démonter son vélo pour prendre l’ @Eurostar ?... Mauvais signal à quelques semaines de la #COP21. #Paris soutient les mobilités douces. @Anne_Hidalgo)

Eurostar’s response was: “Bonjour la procédure a changé les termes et conditions sont les mêmes ceci dans le but de sécuriser des vélos à bord.”

This can be roughly translated as: “Hello the procedure has changed, the terms and conditions are the same with the goal of securing bicycles on board.”

The latest politician to add his voice to the campaign is Pascal Smet, Brussels Minister of Mobility. He tweeted: "Please don't take this step backward @Eurostar Make cycle-rail integration easier, not more difficult." @SmetPascal

CTC was initially informed about the change in Eurostar policy by member, Joseph Banerjee.

Eurostar is currently in its fourth year of sponsoring the Ashden Awards for Sustainable Travel, which celebrate pioneering travel initiatives in the UK, France and Belgium. At this year’s awards, Mr Petrovic said: “We hope that by celebrating the most innovative sustainable travel initiatives across the markets we operate in, we encourage more people to adopt environmentally friendly modes of transport, and really put sustainable travel in the spotlight.”

If you feel Eurostar should reconsider their cycle-carriage policy, please write to them via CTC’s easy to use online tool.

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