Bidders for the franchises that are out to tender currently (East Midlands, West Midlands, New Cross Country and InterCity East Coast) are required to consider bike-rail integration and facilities at stations in their bid submissions. The Government's aspiration is to see 95 per cent. of journeys originating from stations with adequate cycle parking facilities.
Last year the Government asked Cycling England, our advisory group on cycling, to look into how we might better encourage bike and rail journeys. Cycling England has accepted this remit and is now looking to see where progress can best be made further to improve bike and rail integration.
Also, we will continue to encourage Train Operating Companies (TOCs) to carry bikes on trains where possible. This is in line with the Cycling Policy document first published by the former Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) in 2004 and recently adopted by the Department. The Cycling Policy document advises TOCs to facilitate the carriages of cycles on off-peak services and encourages the carriage of folding cycles at all times. However, I accept that during the peak hours, where capacity is under pressure, there will be occasions where it is in the interests of the majority of passengers not to permit non-folding cycles on board.
It is right that TOCs are given a steer by Government as to how they should ensure they are fully maximising the potential of bike and rail to help reduce car use. However, TOCs are best placed to know where and when pressure on services exists and they must be free to impose restrictions accordingly, although I hope that such restrictions are carefully considered and kept to a minimum.