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Level crossings

When it comes to level crossings, cyclists need to be assured of at least two things: that they will get across safely; that convenient crossing points are kept open or created.
Level crossing


Incidents at level crossings have a particularly serious impact on the operation of UK railways.

Whilst the number of signals passed at danger, trains derailed and workers injured have all been going down, level crossings - the only place where the closely controlled movements of trains meets the random and less regulated activity of other transport modes – are still the main, high risk locations. Indeed, there has been no effective solution to cutting the 'crash rate’ amongst road users, who have, unfortunately, included cyclists.

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Cycling and rail

Combining rail and cycle travel is a good alternative to driving for longer journeys, but it needs to be properly catered for...
Cyclepoint at Leeds railway station
Headline Messages: 

Who benefits from combining cycling with rail travel?

  • Individuals: it provides a door-to-door alternative to driving for longer-distance journeys.
  • Commuters: can cut total daily journey time by up to one hour by cycling to and from the station, avoiding congestion and additional bus or inner-city rail journeys.
  • Holiday makers and day visitors: cycle holidays/tours in the UK are growing in popularity, and travelling somewhere different for a cycle ride is an attractive option for a day out.
  • Rail operators: it increases customers' ability to access rail services, with 60% of people living less than a 15 minute cycle ride from a station. It is also a lot less costly to provide cycle parking than space for cars.
  • Local economies: the increased cachment area helps keep branch line services running, further reducing the need for car journeys.
  • Public policy: it encourages more peole to take up cycling and lowers car travel, supporting a wide range of health, transport, social and environmental objectives.


Better Rail Stations report

Good news for cycle parking and other facilities at railway stations

In November 2009, Chris Green and Sir Peter Hall reported their findings on the state of England's rail stations to the then Secretary of State for Transport, Lord Adonis.

The Better Rail Stations report didn't make for pretty reading, but at least the ten worst stations received £50 million in funding to retrofit improvements. This came in addition to £14 million for cycle parking and ten 'Cycle Hubs' (offering cycle hire, repair services and secure parking) with the first appearing in Leeds as Cyclepoint - now up and running.

The report recommended that in future 'Cycle Hubs' be installed at all Cycle hub at Leiden, Netherlands91 of the biggest UK railway stations. An example of a good 'Cycle Hub' is this image (right) of the secure storage and repair centre at Leiden in the Netherlands.

Another of the recommendations gave minimum standards for cycle parking at railway stations at 5% of the daily passenger level. This was a welcome and sensible suggestion, but many stations still fall well below this level - with only a few major stations (Oxford and Cambridge) meeting it. Yet cycling levels in Oxford and Cambridge are much higher than the average and cycle parking at these stations is under extreme pressure. We suggest that in locations with high cycling, stations need to cater to the potential demand rather than limit parking levels to the 5% standard.


Taking a cycle on a train

National Rail Enquiries supplies advice on taking your cycle with you on a train, plus information about each operator's cycle policy, i.e. restrictions, reservations etc. Look up the train company, then click on 'onboard facilities'.


Level crossings

When it comes to level crossings, cyclists need to be assured of at least two things: that they will get across safely; and that convenient crossing points are kept open or created. More on our level crossings page.


CTC View (formal statement of CTC's policy): 

While there have been significant advances over the last few years as far as secure cycle parking at some stations is concerned (see Headline Messages above), combining rail and cycle travel could be made much easier in several ways. For instance, it should be made as easy as possible to:

  • cycle safely to and from rail stations,
  • wheel a cycle over bridges or through subways
  • store a cycle securely and conveniently at all stations
  • hire a cycle from a station, wherever practicable
  • find information about taking a cycle with you on a train
  • reserve a cycle space on a train, if required
  • and, importantly, to take it on the train itself.

For more on our views on cycle carriage, see 'Taking cycles by train'.

Publication Date: 
March 2012
Cherry Allan's picture

Taking cycles on trains

There are many reasons for taking a cycle on the train. It might make a longer, non-driving door-to-door journey easier; help with travel to work, to a meeting, for a cycling holiday, or simply a day’s visit to a trail.
Headline Messages: 
  • In the UK, evidence suggests that the demand for cycle carriage on trains is around 4% of total seating capacity – a demand that is likely to grow as more and more people take up cycling. Theoretically, existing rolling stock is capable of meeting this demand while ideally, new (or newly refurbished trains) should be designed to provide for even more cycles.
  • ‘Dedicated’ cycle spaces (i.e. space allocated specifically for cycles) are the best solution for cycle carriage, and some dedicated cycle space should be available on all trains.
  • 'Flexible' space is less attractive (e.g. spaces that also provides tip-up seating) because it can be inconvenient and irritating for cycle users and other passengers alike. Nevertheless, it can provide a useful, additional cycle storage space.
  • Being able to travel with tandems, tricycles and other cycles of non-standard dimensions makes an important contribution to the mobility of people with disabilities, especially for long(er) journeys. For some users, these machines are in fact mobility aids, helping them travel independently and more comfortably.


National Rail Enquiries supplies advice on taking your cycle with you on a train, plus information about each operator's cycle policy, i.e. restrictions, reservations etc. Look up the train company, then click on 'onboard facilities'.


CTC View (formal statement of CTC's policy): 

We are currently revising and updating our views on cycle/rail and these will be published in due course. In the meantime, these are extracts from CTC's current Policy Handbook (March 2004):


  • Government should take a lead in implementing its commitments for cycle carriage by rail. They should further direct all related agencies (Health and Safety Exectutive, Transec, the Office of the Rail Regulator) to align their policies to facilitate cycle carriage on all rail services.
  • Existing levels of cycle carriage provision should not be reduced or diminished when rolling stock is refurbished or replaced.
  • Targets for minimum cycle carriage standards should be set at two levels:
  • The 'first level' targets should specify what should be achieved in the short-term with existing rolling stock;
  • the 'second level' targets should determine what should be provided when rolling stock is refurbished or new rolling stock commissioned.

The “first level” should be to provide a minimum of 4 cycle spaces for the first 100 seats in any train formation, plus an additional cycle space for each complete or partial multiple of 30 seats thereafter.

The “second level” target should be to provide a minimum of 6 cycle spaces for the first 100 seats in any train formation, plus an additional cycle space for each complete or partial multiple of 24 seats thereafter.

At least 50% of the cycle spaces required to meet these targets should be 'dedicated' cycle provision, the remainder may be “dedicated” or “flexible” provision, but they should not be in locations where they obstruct passenger circulation.

  • In accordance with disabled access requirements and the Government’s social inclusion objectives, it should be possible to carry at least one tandem or tricycle or trailer on any train, and at least one of the required cycle spaces per train formation should be designed to meet this requirement. Access to this storage should conform to the same dimensions as for electric wheelchairs, as virtually all cycles will fit within the same spatial envelope.
  • Cycle spaces and securing arrangements should be designed and laid out so that they are easy and convenient to use.
  • Cycle stowage areas on trains should be clearly labelled on both the outside and inside of the train. Information should also be available to cyclists advising them where to wait on the platform.
  • Cycle carriage on trains should be free of charge and available without requirement to reserve in advance. There should be opportunities to reserve cycle spaces on all services where seat reservation systems are available, or on services whose train fleets do not meet the targets above; in such cases, the reservation charge should generally be free and certainly no more than a seat reservation for the same train.
  • CTC recognises that it may also be necessary to levy an appropriate reservation charge to limit demand on specific services where passenger demand regularly exceeds capacity. In such cases, cycle reservation charges should be aligned with cycle hire and/or parking charges at stations on the route served.
  • Rail-substitute bus services and re-routed train services should permit the same number of cycles to be carried as the carrying capacity of the train service they replace.
  • Rail routes in deep level tube tunnels should be made available for cycle carrying trains with trains and infrastructure embracing appropriate measures to satisfy special safety requirements, as these routes often provide unique opportunities to travel under natural barriers such as rivers.


Publication Date: 
March 2012
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