UK’s first train bike carriages set to cater for rising interest in cycling

Eye-catching designs have been unveiled for the UK’s first bike carriages which are due to run on lines in Highlands later this year.

The first of five specially-converted coaches will operate between Glasgow and Oban, Fort William and Mallaig to cope with the increasing popularity of leisure cycling.

They will be able to carry up to 20 bikes, have space for large items of luggage such as rucksacks and are also be adapted to carry ski and snowboard equipment in the winter.

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The design, revealed to Scotland on Sunday, features landmarks visible from the routes such as the Glenfinnan Viaduct and Monument, Kilchurn Castle and the Cuillin mountain range, along with a Highland cow.

Peter McDermott, Scottish artist and designer of the livery, said: “It was a great pleasure to have been asked to produce this illustration.

“Particularly as my own illustrative style is directly inspired by such artists as Norman Wilkinson and Tom Purvis, who among others, were responsible for the much-loved railway art of the 1930s and 40s.

“Their work was confined to train compartments and poster hoardings, but fortunately for me I’ve had the unique opportunity to work on a much larger canvas.

“That now allows this iconic illustrative style to travel through, and contribute to the very landscape we’ve all sought to interpret.” 

ScotRail project manager Tom Smith said: “We’re delighted to be able to share the exterior design of our first active travel carriage.

“Peter McDermott’s design pays homage to the beautiful and tranquil West Highland Line.

“We’re living in uncertain times, but when these carriages are eventually introduced, it will be a welcome boost for cyclists and those in search of outdoor pursuits along Scotland’s most scenic railways.”

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The first carriage, which previously operated south of the border as a single-coach class 153 train, is being refitted at Brodie’s in Kilmarnock, but there is no date yet for it entering service.

Alex Hynes, managing director of Scotland’s Railway, which comprises ScotRail and track owner Network Rail Scotland, said: “We need to do everything we can to get back our rail market when the time is right.

“We have got some really exciting plans for cycle carriages which we’ll be rolling out later this year to build on the active travel boom. We recognise cyclists want to use the rail network more.

“Essentially, we’ll hook the carriages on to the back of trains. We will initially be using them on the West Highland Line, recognising the status of Fort William as the mountain biking capital of the UK. If that trial is successful, that’s something we can emulate in other parts of the network.”

Bill Reeve, Transport Scotland’s director of rail, said: “It is exciting to see the finalised design for these class 153 carriages, one which incorporates the beauty of the Scottish landscape whilst clearly promoting their active travel purpose.

“This comes as a result of close collaboration between the artist Peter McDermott and ScotRail.

“We look forward to seeing what are sure to become iconic carriages enter passenger service in the future, once we have reached more certain times in our current phased exit from Covid-19 lockdown.”



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