New ScotRail firm to launch more bike facilities

The Dutch company that secured the £2.5 billion ScotRail franchise is set to bring the continental passion for bikes to the streets of Edinburgh.

Keith Brown and Abellio chief executive Jeff Hoogesteger. Picture: Greg Macvean
Keith Brown and Abellio chief executive Jeff Hoogesteger. Picture: Greg Macvean

Abellio, a subsidiary of the Dutch national railway company Nederlandse Spoorwegen, will introduce fully staffed “Cyclepoints” to the Capital’s key train stations when it gains control of Scotland’s rail network in April 2015.

The Cyclepoints – which have already proved a hit in England – will allow busy commuters to hire bicycles for £3.80 a day, park their own bikes, as well as offering maintenance and advice.

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Transport Minister Keith Brown announced Abellio had won the contract to operate ScotRail yesterday morning.

Rival politicians and trade unions condemned the decision to award the ten-year contract to an overseas company rather than a Scottish firm – but the SNP insisted the new contract would “benefit the whole of Scotland”.

Key Abellio promises include introducing advance £5 fares between any two Scottish cities – with prices rising, similar to budget airlines, in line with demand – and plans for 80 new trains by December 2017, as well as a fleet of high-speed trains by December 2018.

Cycling campaigners praised plans to introduce better facilities and pump £1.6 million into more cycle parking spaces.

David Du Feu, organiser of cycling campaign group Spokes, said: “We have been in touch with all the bidders during the franchise process, but I must say we have been very impressed with Abellio. We’re excited about it – overall, we are very pleased with the promises they are making.”

Alison Johnstone, Green MSP for Lothian and co-convener of the cross-party group on cycling, said: “Abellio made a noticeable effort to engage the cycling community in Scotland and I urge them to continue this dialogue as they deliver on their promise of a transformation for cyclists using our railways.

“Cyclists will want to see rapid progress on extra bike capacity on trains and at stations. The Dutch are famed for their world-class cycling culture so expectations will be high for delivering change in Scotland.”

Councillor Lesley Hinds, the city’s transport convener, said she had yet to see any details of the bike proposals, but added the council was in the early stages of exploring its own bike hire scheme for Edinburgh.

She said: “Investment in cycling is a key priority for this council. As cycling is both healthy and cost effective as well as being good for the environment, we welcome all ideas which help encourage more people to take to two wheels.”