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Unboxing regional bike tourism

Roll-on bikes on regional trains is years overdue!

Dismantling, boxing and weighing bikes just to board TrainLink is a major deterrent to regional tourism. Cycle tourism will continue to prefer Victoria, NZ and Europe over NSW because an outdated TrainLink policy doesn’t support Roll-On Bikes on All NSW Trains.

Bicycle New South Wales collaborated with the Central West Cycle Trail Committee and Rail Trails NSW last year to call for simple adaptions to the current fleet of TrainLink rail carriages and coaches to allow for bicycles to travel without having to be boxed. 7 TrainLink staff from a range of departments met us on an XPT train at Central Station to drill down into the issues and opportunities.

And there is good news! NSW TrainLink has announced a trial. Two spaces for unboxed bikes will be made available on the Sydney to Dubbo XPT train in the first quarter of 2024. It's a small but significant step forward.

Thanks to everyone who has supported the campaign, signed the petition and written to politicians. Please take advantage of the trial to prove demand, and continue to write to decision makers to keep the pressure up.

Country train rules need to change to match metro travel

"Every politician we speak to agrees that boxing bikes is an unfair rule that disadvantages regional NSW," says Bicycle NSW CEO Peter McLean. "It flies in the face of NSW Government’s Future Transport and Active Transport strategies, and the hard won Rail Trails Bill.  But you’re in regional Victoria, you can just roll your bike onto the train."

"Cycle tourism, and particularly e-bike tourism, will be a windfall for regional economies if TrainLink allows roll on bikes on all its NSW regional lines."

According to David Allworth, Secretary of the Central West Cycle Trail Committee: "The rules for taking a bike on regional trains are a big impediment. Carriages can be easily and cheaply modified to adapt.  Options include removing a row of seats from one of the cars to create space. Even during peak periods, there are abundant spare seats including unbooked wheelchair spaces."

"The NSW Regional Development Ministry has released the commendable Adventure Cycle Tourism policy to get people out into the regions.  It’s common sense to remove the boxing rule and make regional travel fairer and more attractive. In the recent state election, we asked all candidates to support rural towns and regional economies by allowing bikes to easily get to the bush by train," says Peter McLean.

Supporters of the Roll-on Bikes campaign on Platform 2 at Sydney's Central Station, March 2023 (Photo: Bicycle NSW)

Here’s how you can help advocate for roll-on bikes on all NSW regional trains:

Given the lack of concrete action by Transport for NSW as reported by a Channel 7 News story to do away with the requirement of having to box bikes, we ask for your very much needed support to continue to pressure by:

1. Signing the petition HERE

2. Pressure your local MP and the Minister for Transport. Ideally a letter should be sent to both your local member and The Hon. (Jo) Joanna Elizabeth HAYLEN, BA MP, Minister for Transport. For sample letter ideas and letter templates head over to our resources page here.

John Fuller, committee member of CWC has developed an excellent set of notes of suggested changes that can be made to the current TrainLink rail carriages and coaches. Changes should not be put off until the arrival of the continually delayed new fleet. More on why Boxing Bikes is Bad for The Bush here and here.

3. Contact TrainLink through the customer feedback form emphasising the desperate need for change of rule. This needs to happen to current fleet and changes are relatively simple (see briefing notes). At this stage we have no other method of contacting TrainLink other than through this pro forma method here or here. We cannot say for certain which one is the most effective. Maybe use both!

For further information please contact:

Peter McLean, CEO of Bicycle NSW

David Allworth, Secretary of the Central West Cycle Trail Committee

Tim Coen, Rail Trails NSW

Bicycle NSW is the peak advocacy body for bike riders in NSW and has represented them since 1976. Their mission is to create a better environment for all bicycle riders. Bicycle NSW seeks to bring about a change in the cultural and behavioural stance in support of mainstream bicycle use. Bicycle NSW also advocates for improvements to the built environment to allow a bicycle to be used as a viable and safe transport option.

The Central West Cycle Trail provides a 400 km circuit through the rolling rural landscape away from the main road. Located in the state of New South Wales, the circuit has been developed by local cyclists who know the backroads between the towns.

Rail Trails for NSW is the peak advocacy group supporting and promoting the development of active travel for utility and eco-tourism along the many decommissioned railways across NSW. Rail trails are a growing international movement and boon to local economies.

Please help make a difference and sign this petition here

Donate to the Environmental Trust to help support our advocacy work here .

Join Bicycle NSW today and help elevate our voice. As our valued Member you support Bicycle NSW to be the leaders in bicycle advocacy in NSW.  Bicycle NSW has the ear of government and works tirelessly to create a better environment for all bicycle riders in NSW.