Caledonian Sleeper, the overnight rail service between London and Scotland, has banned e-bikes from its trains. The franchise has elaborated little on its reasoning beyond citing “safety reasons”.
The Courier reports that the change in policy was spotted by Christopher Phin, who had been planning to travel with his e-bike from Dundee to London, just as he has done multiple times before.
Asking for clarification on the policy on Twitter, he was told that a risk assessment had been carried out, “and unfortunately we are not allowed to take them onboard anymore.”
Hi Christopher, we did a risk assessment for the electric cycles and unfortunately we are not allowed to take them onboard anymore.— Caledonian Sleeper (@CalSleeper) January 25, 2022
A separate tweet added: “Unfortunately, due to safety reasons we are not able to carry electric bicycles.”
In the absence of any further comment, users were initially left wondering at the reasoning.
One common suggestion was that it is could be some sort of size/weight issue, possibly relating to the racks where bikes are hung.
The concern, however, appears to be battery safety.
Kathryn Darbandi, the managing director of Serco which oversees Caledonian Sleeper, subsequently claimed that e-bikes had always banned because, as a sleeper service, it must “comply with a higher fire standard than a normal day train operator.”
Highlighting safety warnings issued by London Fire Brigade, she continued: “Currently, there is an industry-wide review looking at the carriage of e-bikes on trains. We are continuing to review our policies in this area. We appreciate there are people who are keen to take their e-bike with them on our service.”
E-scooters were recently banned from public transport in London and Newcastle due to fears that the vehicles’ batteries could catch fire and emit toxic smoke. However, these bans do not extend to e-bikes.
Transport for London explained: “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.”
Scotland’s Active Nation Commissioner, Lee Craigie, has said she is investigating Caledonian Sleeper’s policy.