After weeks of vocal opposition, Eurostar has backed down on its plans to force cyclists to box up their bikes before boarding the cross-channel trains.
In a statement emailed to cycling charity CTC, Eurostar said: “You will be pleased to know that we are not intending to go ahead with the requirement for all bikes to be carried in boxes and will accept fully-mounted bikes.”
The plan was going to be implemented from 1 November, according to Eurostar so that more luggage could be carried. However, reports suggested that cyclists could still travel with their bike unboxed as recently as 3 November.
BikeRadar asked Eurostar this morning, why the change of heart? A spokesperson said: “We understand that the new policy caused concern, we listened to feedback carefully. Because of the concerns that some customers raised we decided to revert back to the original policy.”
This means passengers can continue to bring their bikes with them for the princely sum of £30, without the hassle of dismantling them. It represents something of a victory for the charity CTC, which managed to galvanise support on both sides of the Channel for its ‘Zero stars for Eurostar’ campaign, attracting more than 9,700 signatures.
As a result, CTC’s head of communications and campaigns David Murray was invited to put his points across at a special meeting last week with Eurostar’s director of communications Mary Walsh and London’s cycling commissioner, the former journalist Andrew Gilligan.
“It’s fantastic news that the views of so many of our members and other cyclists across Europe have been listened to,” said CTC’s chief exec Paul Tuohy. “This proves how a successful, well-run campaign can be a massive force for good and make things happen.”
Among the opponents of Eurostar’s bike boxing plans were London Mayor Boris Johnson, who said the move “undermined Eurostar’s green pretensions”. The train operator disagreed, telling BikeRadar: “There was never a point where that wasn’t one of our goals, this was about carrying more bikes.”
With plenty of strong competition from the low-cost airlines and cross-channel ferries, Eurostar says its services offer a faster, more comfortable and more eco-friendly to travel from London to Paris. Indeed, Eurostar was the world’s first train operator to offer carbon-neutral journeys, achieved through a range of measures including cleaner electricity supplies, recycling on-board waste and (inevitably) carbon offsetting schemes.