Taking the train with your bike is sometimes not easy. Yet it is possible. Daily use of public transport and cycling is increasingly common in urban areas. In addition, train-bike intermodality is of great interest to many people. It is even part of the process of an eco-responsible lifestyle.
The railway companies strive to meet the needs of their cycling customers to facilitate their access to the network (metro, RER, TGV or even tram).
Traveling by train with your bike allows you to keep a certain autonomy, once you arrive at the terminus. But the operation is not always the same on different trains. Reservations are often complex. Find in this guide some advice on the instructions to follow so that you can take your cycle on board and how to put your bike in the TER.
Instructions for taking the train with your bike
With the numerous traffic jams in the city and the problem of global warming, the train and the bicycle are currently becoming two complementary modes of transport. Taking the train with your bike is possible in France: regional or international trains, mainline trains, Intercités, high-speed train, etc., even by night train.
You can take your cycle on this public transport for all daily journeys, weekend departures, on vacation, alone or accompanied.
If you plan to take the train with your bike, it is necessary to follow some instructions. Start by choosing the type of line you are going to take. Some train lines do not offer this luxury. Others allow it, but under certain conditions. Regardless of the line taken, three solutions arise. You travel with your bicycle, either:
- not disassembled and installed in the spaces reserved on board the train,
- folded (surely folding model) and its dimension, when folded, does not exceed 120 x 90 cm,
- disassembled and transported in a bag dedicated for this purpose without exceeding 120 x 90 cm.
Get ahead by disassembling, folding and placing your two-wheeler in its bag before boarding. Note that throughout your train journey, you remain solely responsible for your vehicle. You will put a label on it as for all baggage, load it and unload it. Make sure that it does not obstruct traffic and hold it perfectly in your hand in the station enclosures.
How to transport a bicycle in France?
There are several options for taking the train with your bike, depending on the line you take.
If I transport my bike folded or dismantled
You can have it as hand luggage on all trains. Most TER lines offer this favor free of charge by simply hanging or storing your bike in a dedicated space. Please note that these locations cannot be reserved and are accessible subject to availability. It is also free in Transilien Île-de-France, Monday to Friday outside peak hours, in particular before 6:30 a.m., between 9:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. and after 7:30 p.m., on weekends and holidays. In the event of heavy traffic, at any time, bicycle access in these SNCF transports is prohibited.
Reservable bicycle spaces are also available in certain TGV INOUI trains. It is strongly recommended to choose a folding bike to travel more conveniently, more freely and without hindering other travelers. If you want to fold it up and take it apart, INOUI SNCF lets you store the cycle in a cover so that it can be part of your regular hand luggage.No reservation is necessary and transport is free. However, pay attention to the dimensions of the cover!
When you go to buy a ticket with a bike seat, your machine will be stored in its intended location and you will have a seat next to it. This option is available at an additional cost to the price of the train ticket on board Intercités and TGV INOUI. The purchase and the reservation are made at the same time at the counters or on the websites. In summer, reservations for the bicycle corner are required in some areas. The conditions are the same for an electric bicycle or an electric scooter.
For OUIGO rail lines, it is necessary to subscribe to the "additional luggage" option to be able to take the bikes. Otherwise, you will be penalized on the day of departure by a heavy bill.
For the low cost subsidiary, the instructions remain the same in terms of location and storage. In addition to this, the total weight of the package should not exceed 30 kg. The reservation will always be made upon acquiring your train ticket up to 1 hour before the start of boarding. On the other hand, OUIGO does not accept recumbent bikes, tricycles, tandems or trailers on SNCF trains.
If I transport my bike not disassembled
You can board the train equipped with bicycle spaces for bicycles that have not been dismantled. These locations are easily identifiable thanks to the velocipede icons on the doors or windows of the wagon.
TGV Yes SNCF
To take the TGV with your bike not dismantled, you must reserve a place to purchase train tickets. The cost of the service is automatically added to the price of the ticket. To book your train ticket, you can go to an SNCF station or to the website of the railway company. On the internet page there is a map showing you the TGV cycle routes with the bikes not dismantled. However, it is advisable to request information beforehand, as the data may change depending on the period.
Yes SNCF Intercités
To take the Intercités train, your non-dismantled bike is authorized upon reservation and subject to availability. Proceed in the same way as with TGVs. Only standard cycle models are accepted.
Yes SNCF TER
For regional trains, it is possible to embark the entire bike free of charge and without reservation. Wagons are specifically designed to park or suspend many vehicles. Just look for the bicycle pictogram on the wagon. Of course, the controller can arrange the arrangements. But, it will be more judicious to check on the TER sites of the regions if there are specific rules. Among other things, places are sometimes full in summer or during peak hours. At this time, access to the train for the cycling passenger is limited.
The TGV Internationaux and OUIGO do not allow the transport of an unassembled bicycle. So, if you want to take these lines, it is better to fold, dismantle and store your two-wheeler in a suitable cover. The package will take place in the luggage spaces.
How to take the European train with your bike?
You may be planning to travel around Europe by train, and once you arrive at your destination, enjoy your two-wheeler.
To go to the United Kingdom, it is possible to take a child's cycle or a folding bicycle, dismantled or not, free of charge as standard luggage, provided it is stored in a suitable protective cover which covers it entirely. But the size of the bag should not exceed 85 x 85 cm.Eurostar also provides cyclists with a carrying case at check-in at the departure station. If you want to use this service, it is necessary to remove the wheels, pedals and handlebars. Luggage will be collected at the arrival station. Reservations in advance are imperative.
To take the train with your bike to Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany, you have to dismantle it, fold it up and put everything in a soft cover. The package needs to be labeled and the dimension is limited to 135 x 85 x 30 cm. You can take it free of charge in hand luggage and one that does not exceed 75 x 53 x 30 cm, under penalty of being penalized with additional costs.
This railway company accepts to take a TGV with your bicycle to Switzerland without reservation and without charge, provided that it is dismantled and stored inside a cover measuring 120 x 90 cm. The merchandise will then be installed in a dedicated space and a seat will be assigned to you nearby.
Choose the accessories to transport your two-wheeler
To take the train with your bike, some accessories are needed to store it. These include a suitcase or bicycle cover that can be folded up for easy transport. It is essential to protect your machine. Some companies require the use of this equipment. There are a variety of models on the market. The most practical have two carrying handles or an adjustable shoulder strap. Others are fitted with swivel casters for greater maneuverability. The padded and waterproof varieties protect your two-wheeler from shocks, dust or bad weather..