Train Firm Admits Storing Bikes In Disabled LoosAugust 8, 2016
Eurostar has been criticised for using disabled toilets to store bikes on some of the firm’s trains between Britain and France.
The operator has admitted the practice has taken place on an occasional basis but said it has only ever been a temporary step.
The revelation came after an anonymous tip-off from a disgusted staff member.
Recently introduced modern Eurostar carriages don’t have designated areas for bike storage as their predecessors did.
In October 2015 the firm started instructing cyclists to take the wheels off the bikes and place them in purpose-made boxes.
However, the firm was swamped by emails from incensed cyclists, including the former London Mayor Boris Johnson.
Eurostar insisted its trains could still carry the same number of disabled passengers as before, saying they were always given places close to the disabled toilet they could use.
But charities representing disabled travellers, including Transport for All, accused Eurostar of showing a lack of respect.
Each end of the trains affected has one disabled toilet. Staff told the BBC that they were often unable to let disabled passengers sit near the available toilet and said there had been incidents where the move had caused problems.
Eurostar says it is currently adapting the new trains’ luggage storage areas to allow bikes to be carried, but the work won’t be completed until later this year at the earliest.
Cycling organisations that campaigned against to bikes to be carried without being disassembled said putting them in disabled toilets was unacceptable.
Cycling UK chief executive Paul Tuohy called for a comprehensive solution to the problem that would meet the needs of all travellers.
James Pritchard, of Macks Solicitors, a keen cyclist himself, said it looked as though Eurostar hadn’t thought the issue through.
“It’s been a longstanding tradition that cyclists have been able to take their bikes on trains at no additional cost to their train ticket,” he said.
“It makes no sense at all to throw this out of the window at the exact time when we should be encouraging more people to discover the many benefits of cycling.
“At the same time, train operators have a responsibility to provide satisfactory facilities for their disabled passengers and the clumsy compromise Eurostar came up with is simply not one that is acceptable in the 20th Century.”