Wednesday 6 March 2013

The selfishness of South West Trains

Now I’ve heard the lot.  Sitting on Guildford Station early this morning, I heard an admonishing computerised message – presumably inspired by South West Trains - warning me not to take my bicycle on peak trains because of the discomfort to my fellow beings.

I can take folding bikes, of course (they have not banned those yet), but ordinary cycles “cause discomfort for your fellow passengers and can cause delay”.

They can certainly cause discomfort occasionally, but why is this?  Because of the miserable failure of the train companies to build trains capable of carrying them.  So I don’t take it kindly to having my wrist slapped for being thoughtless, when it wasn’t cyclists who were thoughtless. 

These things often work both ways.  What really causes discomfort in this case is a boneheaded pursuit of a narrow kind of efficiency and poor design.

Perhaps the train companies could not reasonably have anticipated the explosion of cycling, but for the last century people have avoided driving by taking bikes on trains.  The new generation of train companies unfortunately prefer their passengers to be rationalised so they can be easy to process.

That is how they come to accuse cyclists of causing discomfort to people just because they want to take the outrageous step their parents, grandparents and great-grandparents did - take their bikes on trains.  Selfish, that's what it is!

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