How to transport your bicycle on InterCity trains

All InterCity trains in Ireland allow the transportation of bikes, but spaces are limited, and the booking system could be better.

Services between Dublin and Cork and Dublin and Belfast have a separate storage area that can take 6 bikes, and all other routes have bicycle spaces located within the passenger compartment – but with room for only 2 bikes.

Last weekend we took our bikes on the train to Westport, to cycle the Great Western Greenway. The bike stands were positioned right at the back of the 6-carriage train, in coach F. The doors next to the stands weren’t adapted in any way, so it was a bit tricky to maneuver the bikes on board.

Irish Rail InterCity bike stands
Irish Rail InterCity bike stands

The wheels are positioned between rails to stop the bike moving about during the journey, and there is a strap to secure the front wheel.

Train Bike Stands
Train Bike Stands

Personally I was disappointed to find that there’s nothing to lock the bikes onto, which is a bit of security risk.  And so, to reduce the chance of anyone wandering off with our bikes, we locked the two bikes to each other, which at least would make them very difficult to move.

Online Booking Process

As space is so limited on board many of the trains, it’s worth reserving the bicycle spaces in advance. However, the process of online booking isn’t altogether obvious or well designed.

On the Irish Rail web site, you need to start using the booking system as usual to order your tickets, and click through as far as the Seat Reservations page where you enter the passengers names.  You then need to make sure you click on the check-box to add bicycle spaces:

Click on the check box to add bike reservations.
Click on the check box to add bike reservations.

The booking system works on the assumption that you want a bike space for each of the passengers in the booking, so if some of your group have bikes and some don’t then it’s advisable to book them separately.

The system will also automatically add €6 per journey (or €12 per return) to the cost of your trip for each bike you want to take.

On the next page you’ll be presented with a map of the carriage that contains the bike spaces.  You need to select the bike spaces on the carriage map (the spaces turn yellow when selected), and their “seat numbers” will appear next to the passenger names further up.

Select the bike spaces
Select the bike spaces

Unfortunately, the booking system doesn’t allow you to then select your seats.  It just randomly allocates seats for you, which may not be anywhere near the bikes or each other.

On our train down to Westport, the bikes were located in Coach F, but our seats were in two different rows in coach B. This obviously isn’t ideal, as you can’t keep an eye on the bikes – and as I said earlier, you can’t lock them up either.

It would be better if the booking system would automatically allocated two seats adjacent to the bike spaces, reserved for whoever brings their bikes on-board.

Anyway, it turned out that the Iarnród Éireann staff were very helpful and friendly, and the whole experience of taking the bikes on the train was pretty good. It was especially good to be able to arrive in Westport, jump straight on the bikes, and cycle the 1km into the town centre.

Richard Bloomfield

Richard is the founder of Dublin Bike Blog. He commutes to work every day by bike, come rain or shine, on his Dutch city bike. You can read more from Richard on his blog richardbloomfield.ie.

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