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Bikes 'not welcome on Connex trains'

GARY MACGOWAN: "Cyclists are not a strange breed of people"
GARY MACGOWAN: "Cyclists are not a strange breed of people"

CYCLISTS have been branded a nuisance by train company Connex South Eastern in an astonishing outburst at a public meeting.

Glen Charles, Connex commercial director, said: “We don’t really like cyclists, passengers don’t really like them, car owners don’t like them.

"Cycles parked at stations and not carried on trains are by far the lesser of two evils. It's when they try to put bikes on trains that we have a real problem.”

The admission came after Connex paid out more than £100,000 for cycle parking facilities to keep them off the trains.

But Colin Nicol, spokesman for the National Cycling Association in Medway, challenged Connex to define who exactly it is that the company does not like.

He said: “When they are saying, ‘they don’t like cyclists’, who are they talking about?

“We have got doctors, lawyers and all sorts of people from Medway who ride bikes regardless of profession.”

Mr Nicol said Connex was making it so difficult for passengers to take bikes on to trains that the elderly and less-able people are suffering. He said: “We used to take people who cannot ride very well down to the coast, but it has become such a problem that we have stopped doing it.”

The Government is currently trying to meet its target for increased cycle use, but Mr Nicol said: “Government policy is to improve transport but Connex has made it worse.”

Gary Macgowan, chairman of the new Medway cycle forum, pointed out that cyclists are not a strange breed of people. He said: “The idea that people don’t like bikes is just stupid. Cyclists are not a bunch of weirdos.

New trains on the railways have caused further problems for cyclists as they have no facilities and nowhere to put their bikes.”

Mr Macgowan said: “This can only be down to the general inefficiency of Connex, it is only looking at its own mode of transport.”

A Connex South Eastern spokesman said: “We welcome cyclists on to our trains when it is less busy, so not during morning and evening rush hours because we can’t fit both bikes and passengers comfortably on to the trains.

“We are investing in cycle lockers on our rail stations because we want to encourage cyclists on to the railways,” he added.

Some other train operators are also trying to slam the door on cyclists. But other, including Anglia Railways and Arriva Merseyside, feature bike carriages and work with cyclists. They claim that it improves revenue and services.

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