You’ve dreamt of cycling in Europe for a long time, so nothing short of riding your own bike will do. But how do you get it all the way from your home to your destination in Europe? There are several steps to have it go smoothly, but none of them are terribly complicated if you plan ahead a little bit.Sure there is also the option of renting a car, but not everyone wants to do that. For this blog post, we’ll look at the option of transporting your bike on a european train.
Here are some tips:
Smooth train travel begins before you even book your plane ticket to Europe. Did you know that some major european airports have train stations located directly in the airport? Paris and Frankfurt are just two examples. You don’t even have to leave the terminal. Simply get your bike from baggage claim and roll it to the train station. This saves you a step: there are no taxi or bus transfers and no hauling your bike more than you have to. You may also be able to go directly to your final destination without having to change trains later. For example, you can travel directly from the Paris CDG airport to Provence in just over 3 hours.
Allow enough time and know the game plan before you board
Get to the train station early to load your bike. Try the luggage area at the end of your train car or look for the bike symbol on some trains that now have a special bike compartment. If you put your bike in a bike specific car that is not the same car in which you are traveling, be sure to confirm that the car is going to the same destination as you! Some long-haul trains will split during the course of the journey. The car destination is typically posted near the door of each train car, but if unsure, just ask a train conductor. And please remember, bike cases can be large so please be courteous of other travelers and do not block aisles or doorways with your bike, even if the luggage racks are full.
Can bikes go inside the train car or must they be loaded into special bike luggage areas?
There is often confusion about this. If you look at the railway websites, they will often state that bikes must go in special compartments or designated areas within the train and cannot be loaded into the train car. This is referring to bikes NOT in bike cases. If your bike is in a bike case or box, it is treated as luggage, not a bike. But as mentioned above, bike cases are large and can get in the way. Do your best to load it with other luggage and keep it out of the way for the other passengers.
Is your bike outside of a case? Well then, yes, you need to load it in the designated bike area or bike car. This will also limit which trains you can take. Not all trains (especially not the high speed, express trains) have bike compartments. If your bike is not in a case, double check that you’ll be able to transport it, before you plan your trip.
Image source: “Aéroport Charles De Gaulle 2 – Gare TGV” by Alessandro Prada. Creative Commons License. https://www.flickr.com/photos/bibendum84/5274176885