CER-ECF workshop highlights efforts to improve bike-train intermodal solutions

CER-ECF workshop highlights efforts to improve bike-train intermodal solutions

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

On Tuesday 11 October 2016 the Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies (CER) and the European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF) jointly organised a Cycle and Train Workshop at the CER’s offices in Brussels.

The focus of the workshop was on facilitating first and last mile bike journeys to and from stations.The idea for the workshop came from a meeting of the Executive Director of CER, Dr Libor Lochman, and the Secretary General of the ECF, Dr Bernhard Ensink, back in June when they agreed that it would be useful to hold an event for rail operators to highlight examples of good practices from around Europe in terms of bike-rail intermodality.  

Dr Ensink opened the workshop by stressing the common agenda that exists between those working on the two transport modes and the benefits of promoting intermodality. Since the focus of the workshop was on first and last miles solutions, the ongoing European project Bike-Train-Bike (BiTiBi) was invited to frame the discussions.  

Bruno Van Zeebroeck, from Transport & Mobility Leuven (a partner in the BiTiBi project) then outlined the project’s main actions:

  • Build safe, secure and convenient bike parking facilities at train stations
  • Provide convenient public bikes
  • Unite the bicycle and train stakeholders
  • Integrate payment system of bike and rail services
  • Communicate positively the advantages for combining bicycles and trains  

Several European rail operators were given the opportunity to present the work that they are doing to improve conditions for bike-rail intermodality, covering topics like bicycle infrastructure (inside and outside of stations), public bike systems and combined ticketing, providing information for passengers and bicycle carriage.  

Conrad Haigh (Head of Integrated Transport at ATOC) presented the experience in the UK of enabling rail customers to cycle to and from the stations, notably by promoting cycle hubs, bike parking and cycle-related information at rail stations. Luisa Pockrandt (Project Manager at DB) and Victor Vaugoin (Head of Brussels Officeat ÖBB) highlighted the ongoing work of their respective companies on fostering multimodal transport chains via rental bike systems and parking areas, while also highlighting ongoing efforts to improve accessibility of stations and trains for bicycles. Oliver Drewes (European Affairs NS)  presented the success of the OV-fiets system in terms of increasing the modal share of rail passengers and bike journeys to/from the rail stations. Finally, Bjarne Lindberg Bak (Deputy Director for International Affairs at DSB) concluded the interventions by presenting DSB’s approach towards bike-rail inter-modality and the experience of bike carriage on the Copenhagen S-train network.

A major point that came across from all the presentations of the operators was the importance of urban mobility public policies across Europe to support rail-cycle mobility infrastructures, e.g. parking at stations. 

Many of the rail operators also commented on the good working relationship that they have with the cycling organisations in their country.

To end the workshop there was an opportunity to ask questions about what had been presented.  A representative of Trenitalia (Italy) stated that it would be useful to have access to these good practice examples.  It was explained that the BiTiBi project brings together examples in the countries that are included in the partnership, while the ECF’s position paper on good practices in this area is in the process of being updated.  

There was also a discussion about providing a business case for investing in cycling measures.  Bruno Desmet from SNCF (France) stated that a study recently published by the French Environment and Energy Management Agency (ADEME) provided lots of data on quantifying the impact on bike and train modal share as a consequence of bike parking facilities at stations supported by public authorities.  

Dr Ensink asked the participants to think of investments in measures for cyclists in the same way as all other types of investments that need to be made.  He then returned to the theme he spoke of in his introduction about the importance of the two modes working together, particularly at a time when all levels of government in Europe are looking to reduce the environmental impact of the transport sector.  

All the participants agreed to have learned a lot over the two hour workshop. In their conclusions, CER and ECF committed to continue their ongoing cooperation and to reinforce their common work on promoting cycle-rail inter-modality in particular in the area of urban mobility and public policies in support of bike journeys to/from railway stations. The upcoming EU Cycling Strategy was mentioned as one of the relevant initiatives where CER and ECF can jointly promote cycle-rail solutions in urban transport.