Clip on your helmet, don the high-vis, and speed past that overcrowded bus on your way to the station. The clever commuter jumps on a bike to catch their morning train.Clip on your helmet, don the high-vis, and speed past that overcrowded bus on your way to the station. The clever commuter jumps on a bike to catch their morning train.

Did you know that 43% of people in the UK own or have access to a bicycle, but only 2% of train passengers travel to the station by bike? This is in contrast to our Dutch friends, where cycling accounts for a third of all trips to and from the station.

Cycling is really growing in popularity on our little isle - not that it was ever unpopular, but with government backed investment, more safe cycle paths, and Team GB’s successes on the track and roads at home and away, we’re really experiencing a national surge in cycle usage and journeys. For example, in Birmingham £24million has been invested to grow cycle journeys as part of the Cycle Revolution programme within the city. More of us Brits are feeling inspired to slip on the Lycra and get on our bikes. And why wouldn’t we? It keeps us fit, keeps our travel costs down and ticks the box for reducing those carbon footprints.

If the people who make clever predictions about things had a chart to demonstrate cycling growth, the lines would all go up and up. Investment in towns and cities, subsidised bike schemes and expanding cycling communities are leading the way for this growing revolution. So, part of our responsibility to communities on our network is to ensure that we have adequate and long lasting facilities to meet the needs of this biking boom.

What’s being done?

Being green is important to us at Virgin Trains. And so is efficient, low carbon and integrated travel. Our Project Manager, and keen cyclist, Paul Holland’s aim is to “encourage sustainable transport to and from our stations by providing opportunities for seamless and sustainable end-to-end customer journeys” – and from here our Bike Hubs project was born.

In 2013 the government announced their biggest injection of funding (to the tune of £148million) to encourage sustainable transport in towns and cities by improving cycling safety. This was in addition to a boosted fund of £15million especially for improved facilities at train stations – wowza!

Through close engagement with the Department for Transport and ATOC (as well as many hours of collaboration with councils and station teams), Paul and the project team secured £1.8million of this funding from five separate bids to improve cycle facilities at Rugby, Coventry, Birmingham International, Preston and Carlisle stations. And from this excellent work, our plans to build secure facilities with bike rental and maintenance options have taken shape.

Bike Hubs for the community

The vision behind the project is to help the whole of our customers’ journeys be as seamless as possible. Imagine it – cycle to the station, lock up your bike, stroll straight on to the platform, and do the same on your return journey (but in reverse, of course). Easy and sustainable.

The Bike Hubs being built at Rugby, Coventry, Birmingham International, Preston and Carlisle are independent structures from the station, and include bike hire and maintenance where possible. The fully enclosed Hubs have 24 hour access using a key fob, and are CCTV monitored areas for you to leave your wheels out of the elements. Some also have access to exclusive changing rooms and direct access to the platforms. There’s an extra 200 spaces for storing bikes at each station – and that’s an extra 200 people who can begin to reap the benefits of cycling to work!

The Bike Hubs project not only improves facilities at stations for passengers, but also encourages sustainable journeys for everyone. The project means working together with the wider government and city improvement, upgrade and expansion strategies to improve and grow cycling communities. Its building integrated transport amenities that will last, and be improved upon as more of the nation embraces cycling and more bikes arrive at our stations.

All the gear you need

We love local businesses. Working with local partners was an essential part of the project – they give our Bike Hubs a unique quality and support community engagement, as well as give local businesses a place to show off their goods and services.

For example, if you’re anywhere near Preston and need any cycling essentials like clothing or helmets (or even a quick repair), fear not, because we’ve partnered with Leisure Lakes Bikes. Their shiny new store will sort you right out. Plus, not only can you get yourself some new Lycra at Preston station, you can also hire yourself a two wheeler to get around town. Leisure Lakes is a local family run business set up in 1981, and with the new store being in their hometown, both sides are really proud to work together. Lucy Noy of Leisure Lakes’ second family generation and who runs the store, told us, “We’re really excited to be a part of the Virgin Trains project that is continuing to improve cycling in Preston; and to give people the opportunity to hire bikes right from the train station to enjoy the Guild Wheel and the surrounding bike paths".

Taking your bike on the train?

There’s so much to explore by bike in our brilliant nation – urban or otherwise. See more about making a bike reservation on our bikes page

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