E-bikes will again be allowed on Caledonian Sleeper trains after the franchise accepted they do not pose a significant fire risk.
Last month Caledonian Sleeper, the overnight rail service between London and Scotland, banned e-bikes from its trains, citing a risk assessment and “safety reasons”.
Kathryn Darbandi, the managing director of Serco which oversees the franchise, later claimed that e-bikes had always been banned because, as a sleeper service, it must “comply with a higher fire standard than a normal day train operator.”
She highlighted recent safety warnings about batteries issued by London Fire Brigade by way of explanation.
These warnings had given rise to e-scooter bans on public transport in London and Newcastle due to fears that batteries could catch fire and emit toxic smoke. However, they did not extend to e-bikes.
Explaining the distinction, Transport for London said: “E-bikes are generally subject to better manufacturing standards and the batteries are usually positioned in a place where they are less likely to be damaged, and so are less of a fire risk.”
The Courier reports that Caledonian Sleeper has now adopted a similar position.
A Serco spokesperson said: “We are pleased that, having completed a review, we will be accepting e-bikes in the near future. We will update our guests and confirm further details and dates as soon as we can.”
It is understood that conditions will be that:
- The e-bike does not weigh more than 25kg
- The battery is switched off, but not removed
- The e-bike is not charged using the train’s power supply
Sam Jones of national cycling charity Cycling UK commented: “The UK cycle industry has an excellent record for product safety, including e-bikes, so this really is a victory for common sense.
“Cycling UK is pleased to see the Caledonian Sleeper revisit and overturn its initial decision to ban e-bikes. E-cycles, potentially more so than normal cycles, can often be an important mobility aid – continuing the ban would have run the risk of being unnecessarily discriminatory.”
Chris Phin, who first spotted that e-bikes were no longer permitted, said: “I’m so happy I can soon again take my e-bike on the Caledonian Sleeper down to London.
“Being able to step into a comfy cabin at 11pm in Dundee, sleep, and be zipping through traffic in time for a nine o’clock meeting in London – it is wildly more convenient than flying, driving or taking a day train down. This is a great move for active and lower-carbon travel.”
Scotland’s Active Nation Commissioner, Lee Craigie, also welcomed the decision.
“E-bikes are allowing a whole new swathe of our population access to the joy and environmental sense that riding a bicycle can offer,” she said.
“It is essential we make it as easy as possible for more people to choose active and sustainable transport choices over private cars where possible. I’m delighted.”