Friday, 16 March 2018

GWR - the start of a campaign

If you haven't done so already, I suggest you first read my earlier post about GWR and their increasingly anti-cycling stance.

There simply is no operational reason for their decisions, and from where I'm standing it looks like simply a combination of greed and a large dosage of anti-cycling sentiment combined to form their new policy.

Exeter MP Ben Bradshaw has been challenging GWR before, and they tried waffling him off with a letter saying the policy is guidance only, but that stance has since changed, and become more determinedly anti-cycling.

The only way we as cyclists can fight back is to start working together. We need to make this is local issue where ever we may live, and we need to lobby our local MPs, enlist the support of our local cycling campaigns, write to our local councillors and create as much negative publicity for GWR as what we can.

GWR's franchise is up for renewal in 2020, so we have two years to build a groundswell of resistance to their draconian policies, and hopefully either get GWR to back right down, or get them to lose their franchise.

The clincher will be numbers, and we will need many people to come forward and help. Remember, even if you don't regularly take a bike on a train, you should still support this campaign as any successful anti-cycling policies by one company could lead to an avalanche of other companies following suit. And no, not all such companies will be train companies, so this potentially has far-reaching repercussions that could directly affect all cyclists.

Starting in Cornwall, the following is a list of constituencies through which GWR trains on the Paddington-Penzance route run. Obviously, GWR runs other routes, too, including into Wales and Southern England, so if you can help out by listing the additional constituencies, I'd be much obliged.

St Ives, Camborne and Redruth, Truro and Falmouth, St Austell and Newquay, South East Cornwall, North Cornwall, Plymouth Moor View, Plymouth Sutton and Devonport, West Devon, Totnes, Central Devon, Newton Abbott, Exeter, East Devon, Tiverton and Honiton, Taunton Deane, Bridgwater and West Somerset, Wells, Weston-Super-Mare, North Somerset, Bristol South, Bristol West, Bristol East, North East Somerset, Bath, North Wiltshire, Chippenham, South Swindon, North Swindon, Wantage, Henley, Reading West, Reading East, Maidenhead, Beaconsfield, Slough, Hayes and Harlington, Ealing Southall, Ealing North, Ealing Central and Acton, Hammersmith, Kensington, Westminster North and Cities of London and Westminster

If you live in any of these constituencies, please will you urgently contact your MP, and try to enlist their support in trying to get GWR to back down on their anti-cycling policies?
Please will you also contact your local cycling campaign and ask for their support?

Together, we can beat this!

You are of course free to use your own wording, but in case you want a starter, here's an example letter you may want to copy and paste:

Dear ,

I am writing to you as a constituent concerned about GWR's increasingly anti-cycling policies. Before, GWR permitted full size bicycles to be carried on all of it's trains, without reservation, and subject to space being available.

To the best of my knowledge, this has never caused any problems.

However, in anticipation to new rolling stock being put into use, GWR changed their policy, requiring cycle reservations to be made at least two hours before departure for all high speed trains, even when there is ample space.
Following an outcry, GWR did relent somewhat, and currently allows cyclists to make a bicycle reservation up to shortly before the train departs.

While this softening of their stance is an improvement on what immediately preceded it, it still doesn't allow cyclists a great deal of flexibility. Remember, not everyone can pre-plan exactly what time train they will be taking.

Crosscountry trains don't have the same policy as GWR, and they cope rather well. On Crosscountry trains, there are only three bicycle spaces, of which two can be reserved, while the third is available on a first-come-first-served basis.

With increased congestion blighting our roads, and air pollution often exceeding legal levels, surely we should all try and enable as many to cycle as what we possibly can? Not every journey can be cycled, and people are free to choose their mode of travel, but when train companies actively start being obstructive towards cyclists, then we're rapidly going nowhere.

Please will you raise this matter in parliament? GWR's franchise is due for renewal in 2020, and I don't feel any company as actively anti-cycling deserves to hold a rail franchise.

Many thanks in advance.

Kind regards