Sunday, November 13, 2011

Bicycles and trains–cheese and wine

Friday, 11:11:11: My daughter has been home from University for a few days – what is called a “reading week”, but at least for her is an anomaly because they are intended to provide some time for revision before exams – only they don’t have any exams until next year.  They will have a shorter Christmas holiday as a result though.

She flew down, with her smallest suitcase so as not to have to check in luggage and incur the fee wrath of cheap airlines. Is it just me or are the costs of cheap-flying deliberately complex to trick the unwary?  Having said that her flight was cheap and she couldn’t bring any washing home as her hand luggage was too small.

Going back was a different matter, she had loads of stuff and because she was visiting a friend on the way back then catching a train became the sensible, but costlier option. (Various bits had been accumulating at home, things that she’d ordered but had delivered here because getting packages delivered and signed for at her University is not easy.) For reasons that are not that obvious to me she decided to catch the train from Ely as it meant one less change of train on the journey, although I think that it just made the timing a bit more convenient for her.

So we drove her up to Ely to see her off. Although since her first change of train was Peterborough we could have taken her there instead.  Ely is a pleasant station though. I use it when cycling between Kings Lynn and Cambridge – I cycle the whole way one way and then take the train between Kings Lynn and Ely on the other leg. I also catch the train to Manchester from Ely, the parking is cheaper and the train is direct.

Unusually given my recent track record of struggling to find parking for either my car or bike at Cambridge railway station we found  a space at Ely without too much trouble. The tickets, ordered on-line also appear from the ticket machine without any hassle. You do wonder quite how we coped without the Internet.

We also managed to arrive with a bit of time in hand – so had a drink and I also wandered around taking a few pictures of the Station. There are three platforms, with a tunnel to connected them together and, as far a cyclists go, the tunnel does not have any steps, it is a slop down under and back up which certainly makes it a bit more bike friendly than many a station I’ve negotiated with my bicycle.

The other thing about Ely is that it seems better connected than Cambridge, if you follow this OSM link, you’ll see that it has railway lines going off in 5 directions. The other thing is that when going West from Platform 1 you head east, looping back around Queen Adelaide, where there is also a turning loop.

I do think that trains and bikes should be considered as an integrated transport system far more than they are.  On a fast train it only takes 16 minutes to get from Ely to Cambridge by train. So to commute by bicycle between Ely and Cambridge by train makes perfect sense, if you take your bike with you. Assuming 30 minutes of commute each way, then you get 14 minutes on a bike and free exercise.

What is that I spy further down platform 1? bicycles. To the right of the blue pillars is the tunnel that gets you to the centre platform.

As you can see it is an electrified line, at least if you are going between Kings Lynn and Cambridge.

And where better to put the bicycles – yep on the platform. According to National Rail the station has 10 cycle racks in the car park and 89 racks on platform 1. Mind you I am not sure whether that means a rack that can take two bikes, or actual bike spaces. Even with the bike racks there are still bikes locked to the fence and one of the pillars. (The station map rather undersells the amount of cycle parking I think.

I wonder what their unwanted bike policy is, the green bike in the centre has a flat tyre – will they cut the lock and send of away? (Is it coincidence that First Capital Connect don’t mention the bicycle facilities at Ely Station – don’t they want cyclists?)

As you can see, cycle parking on Platform 1 seems to have been expanded several times to satisfy the demand.

A partial shelter has been added onto the end – with transparent roofing.

Along with another shelter with opaque roofing beyond that. I wonder how much bike traffic there is, probably not at the thousand bicycles a day an Cambridge Railway Station.

1 comment:

  1. I do a part-bike part-train commute every day. I don't usually use the bike parking at the station though, since I have a folding bike, and can take it on the train with me. But I still think it's great that they've increased the availability of bike racks - even putting up a shelter. Great way to encourage people to ride to the station in the morning.