Eurostar says 'yes' to talks...but plans still go ahead

Cyclists will have to box up their bikes to travel on Eurostar from Sunday 1 November. Picture: Darkroom Daze from Flickr Creative Commons
Eurostar has agreed to meet CTC and Mayor of London Boris Johnson’s office to discuss the controversial move to make cyclists dismantle and box up their bikes to travel. But any face-to-face talks will have to take place AFTER the new cycle-carriage policy comes into force this Sunday.

David Murray, CTC’s Head of Communications and Campaigns, said: “While we are pleased Eurostar have agreed to a meeting, no date has been set so clearly they have no intention of delaying the introduction of this backward policy – despite the outcry from the public and leading politicians on both sides of the Channel.

“With all due respect, we are also disappointed that Eurostar say they will be represented at any meeting by their Head of Public Affairs, Pierre Delalande, rather than the company’s CEO Nicolas Petrovic.”

CTC has spearheaded a Europe-wide 'Zero stars for Eurostar' campaign urging the high-speed train provider to reverse its plans.

ECF (European Cyclists’ Federation) slammed the move in a letter to Eurostar CEO Mr Petrovic, which was also signed by French, Belgian, German and Dutch cycling bodies. More than 9,000 people have now added their names to the letter online – a figure that is still climbing.

Let’s not forget that you can take skis, snowboards and snooker cues without this additional time and booking hassle…and at no extra cost."

David Murray, CTC Head of Communications and Campaigns

Boris Johnson MP wrote to the company “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 from the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group support the cyclists’ campaign, while the Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, and Pascal Smet, Brussels Minister of Mobility, have criticised Eurostar’s plans.

Currently cyclists can pay a £30 fee to take a complete bicycle on Eurostar via a registered luggage system. But from Sunday, their cycles will have to be dismantled and boxed up by staff at Eurostar stations using the same service at the same price.

David Murray said: “To take a bike on to a Eurostar service, you have to call a separate company, EuroDespatch, to book your bike on to a train. There is no guarantee that it will be booked on to the same service, so you may have to hang around for at least an hour at your destination for your bike to turn up.

“You have to add 2½ hours to your journey time – the equivalent of a whole Eurostar journey from London to Paris – to allow the company time to break down your bike, box it up and allow Customs in Paris to check over your bike.

“And all for the princely sum of £30 – considering that Eurostar tickets start at £59, this does seem rather expensive.

“Let’s not forget that you can take skis, snowboards and snooker cues without this additional time and booking hassle…and at no extra cost.”

CTC is urging members of the public who are concerned about the planned changes to write to Eurostar expressing their concern, which they can do through an easy to use online tool.