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Both Stena Line and Irish Ferries have special tickets for train+ferry between Britain and Dublin, Ireland. Stena Line call it Rail Sail and Irish Ferries call it Sail Rail (I suppose that makes geographic sense). I have booked travel with a bike to Dublin through Rail Sail. I received my train tickets and confirmation the bike is booked for the ferry, but I did not receive bike reservations with my train tickets. For Sail Rail I will receive my tickets when checking in at the Dublin ferry port, and presumably they won't have a train bike reservation for me either. How do I obtain bike reservations for the railway part of the journey?

As I was travelling for work I've had to book through a travel agent, which insists that The train providers have advised me that they do not reserve a bike for travel but you can take this with you as luggage when travelling. That's incorrect at least for Virgin Trains and GWR, and perhaps others where bike reservations are mandatory.

My outward journey includes travel with South Western, CrossCountry, Virgin Trains West Coast, and Arriva Trains Wales. My return journey includes travel with Arriva Trains Wales, Virgin Trains West coast, and Great Western Railway. For those companies, I'm aware that bike reservations are mandatory or Virgin Trains West Coast and Great Western Railway, and recommended on CrossCountry and Arriva Trains Wales.

  • 2
    Sounds like your travel agent may be in the running for most complex routing of the year. – mdewey Sep 1 '17 at 12:08
  • As far as SouthWestern Railway is concerned they do not do reservations for seats so probably not for cycles either. There are no cycles allowed on trains arriving during the London peak but otherwise first come first served. There are three spaces situated together. If the station is staffed they may be able to tell you where to wait. – mdewey Sep 1 '17 at 12:10
  • @mdewey I ended up fixing VT by online chat, XC by Facebook, and AW by phone. Haven't done GW yet. The travel agent is incompetent and I use it only because I'm travelling for work. If you look at routing EAR-HHD then it will typically be 4 companies (via RDG and BHM) or 3 (via WAT/EUS), but on the way back I decided to travel via EUS/PAD and cycle from RDG. – gerrit Sep 1 '17 at 14:28
  • Why not amalgamate your comment and mine into an answer so that the questions does not go unanswered? I cannot imagine you are the only person who wants to take a bicycle on a British train. – mdewey Sep 1 '17 at 15:36
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It is possible to book bike reservations directly from each train operating company, but you'll have to contact each company directly. That means four companies, four bike reservations. There is no need to already have the ticket (just explain the situation), so it works in both directions.

South Western do not take or need bicycle reservations for the trains relevant for my journey. They might for others; I did not check in detail.

CrossCountry bike reservations, I did through their Facebook Messenger page. It was quick and painless. I did not get a booking code: they just noted my name and told me the train manager would be informed.

Virgin Train bike reservations, I did through their online chat service. There was a little wait (maybe 20 minutes), I told them the trains, received one booking code for each segment, I will go to the train station to pick up the tickets.

Arriva Trains Wales bike reservations, I did by phone. I had to phone, wait in the queue, tell them my name, e-mail address (she said she had to make me an account first, but she was not able to send me the details by e-mail), I received one booking code for my bike reservation in both directions.

Great Western Railway, I have not done myself as the travel agent finally admitted they were wrong in their claim there are no bike reservations and offered to do this one, but it should probably be like the others.

  • South Western Railway do require cycle reservations for the West of England line (Exeter/Bristol/Salisbury to London). At least, that's what I read on a label inside a train just this very morning. Maybe it's changed since the franchise changed, but I don't see why it should. This isn't relevant for your location; just wanted to make it clear so others don't get confused! – Muzer Sep 1 '17 at 16:08
  • @Muzer Fair enough, to be sure I added a qualifier. – gerrit Sep 1 '17 at 16:11

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