Cycling's zero stars for Eurostar

Eurostar plans to make it more difficult for cyclists to use their services (Photo Evan Bench CC)
CTC criticises “hypocritical” change in Eurostar policy which would make cyclists “third-class passengers”

CTC has slammed Eurostar over its “hypocritical” plans to make cyclists dismantle their bikes before travelling and urged the high-speed train provider to rethink its policy.

Today (Wednesday 14 October), CTC teamed up with European partners from France, Belgium and Holland to write to Nicolas Petrovic, CEO of Eurostar, criticising the proposed change in cycle carriage policy.

Currently cyclists can pay a £30 fee to take a complete bicycle on Eurostar via a registered luggage system. But from 01 November, Eurostar’s policy on cycle carriage is set to change for the worse as cyclists will be forced to dismantle their cycle and box it up using the same service – a move CTC Chief Executive Paul Tuohy believes would mean treating them as “third-class passengers”.

No UK train operating company employs such restrictive measures and European cycle bodies are concerned these changes would prevent new cyclists and those who rely on cycling as a mobility aid from using a sustainable transport means to travel between the UK and Europe.

With 2.3 million cycle tourism trips in the EU every year worth more than £33billion (€44bn), CTC believes this regressive step would make air and bus travel more attractive to the UK cyclist venturing to the continent, or a European cyclist looking to come to the UK.

Eurostar is 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, 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.” CTC believes Eurostar’s new cycle carriage proposals are contrary to such a statement, and urges Eurostar to reverse a policy which would discriminate against cyclists and sustainable travel.

Paul Tuohy, CTC Chief Executive, said: “It’s hypocritical that an organisation with a history of sponsoring awards celebrating the achievements of pioneering travel initiatives could come up with such a barmy policy on cycle carriage. 

Cyclists should not be treated as third-class passengers and we urge Eurostar to reverse their planned policy.”
Paul Tuohy, CTC Chief Exec

"There is nothing sustainable about this policy, as it would actively discourage the people we want to see cycling more from using what is otherwise a fantastic service. For the new cyclist or those who rely on cycling as a mobility aid, dismantling and reassembling a bike for transit is too difficult.

“With London, Paris, and Brussels each vying to be top cycling cities and Amsterdam, arguably Europe’s cycling capital, due to join the Eurostar network in 2016, now is not the time to take a step back in cycle-rail policy. Cyclists should not be treated as third-class passengers and we urge Eurostar to reverse their planned policy.”

CTC member Rosemary Dooley, 68, from Kendal, recently took her assembled bike on Eurostar.

She said: “I have to take my own bike everywhere due to arthritis in my hands, hence small adaptations. I am also not mechanical. But it seems now that I will have to learn to remove and replace the front wheel. I just hope it doesn’t involve strong fingers like changing an inner tube.”

Nicolas Clifford, Logistics Manager and CFO at cycle tour specialists Blue Marble Travel, said: “In 2015 alone, close to 100 of our clients have crossed the Channel with their cycles via Eurostar – this despite the obvious failings of a poorly-designed system.

"If Eurostar puts its plans in place, the only realistic choice for cyclists seeking to join the type of ‘itinerant’ trip we offer will be short-haul air, which makes a mockery of the company's 'green' mantra.”

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

Notes to editors

  1. For further information on CTC, the UK’s largest cycling charity, inspires and helps people to cycle and keep cycling, whatever kind of cycling they do or would like to do. Over a century’s experience tells us that cycling is more than useful transport; it makes you feel good, gives you a sense of freedom and creates a better environment for everyone. 
  2. Now in their fourth year, the Eurostar Ashden Awards for Sustainable Travel celebrate the achievements of pioneering travel initiatives in the UK, France and Belgium, which encourage people to adopt more sustainable ways of travelling, helping improve quality of life whilst reducing congestion, pollution, and CO₂ emissions.…;
  3. The other organisations writing to Eurostar include: the French bodies FFUTAN and FFCT, FUB,  Belgium’s GRACQ, the Netherlands’ Fiestsersbond, Germany’s and are supported by the European Cycling Federation (ECF) 
  4. The figure of 2.3 million cycle tourism trips in the EU every year worth more than £33billion (€44bn) comes from a European Parliament commissioned study of cycle tourism undertaken in 2012.  More info here: 


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