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The web site warns that each type of train has a different number of bicycle storage places. You should theoretically contact the station where you wish to join the train a few days before to check whether there is room. In our limited experience for shorter journeys you can just turn up at the station, buy your tickets and pop your bike on the train.

The ship services on Lake Lucerne are described in the SGV web site (www.lakelucerne.ch). The web site in English, French and German includes a webcam view of the landing stage in Lucerne and weather information.

Lake Constance Passenger Ships There are five web sites: one German, two Swiss, one Austrian and and a joint one representing all of the companies offering trips on Lake Constance. These web sites are all in German, though the Austrian site has an English version with many links to German sites (www.erlebnis-bahn-schiff.at ) Who said the language of the Internet was English?

The Rhine (Germany), Bonner Personen Schiffahrt (Bonn-Linz) www.bps-online.com (English and German); Loreley-Linie (Boppard-Rüdesheim) www.Loreley-Linie.com (English and German); Bingen-Rüdesheimer (Rüdesheim-St. Goar) www.bingen-ruedesheimer.com (English and German); The Grandmother of them all: Köln-Düsseldorfer (Rüdesheim-Köln-Düsseldorf) www.k-d.com (English and German)

Moselle (Germany) Köln-Düsseldorfer (Koblenz-Cochem) www.k-d.com (English and German)

The Romantic Road Deutsche Touring GmbH offers bike transport daily on its long distance buses in the touring season between Frankfurt, Würzburg, Füssen and Munich.

Crossing the English Channel

If you and your bike are starting your journey abroad from Britain, it is well worth looking at the European Bike Express bus services to France and Spain from eastern England.

You can obviously put your bike on any of the ferries crossing the channel, but you may prefer to go under it, especially if you are travelling on by SNCF from Paris. This quote is taken from a CTC eMail service to its members in September 2008. This service is another good reason to join the CTC.

Travelling on Eurostar this summer?

"Eurostar, the high-speed passenger train service that links the UK to the Continent, today (10 September 2008) announced that it has seen a 300% increase in the number of bikes it carries following the introduction of a new bicycle reservation system in April 2008.

The new system enables cyclists to reserve a place for their bikes on the same train they are travelling on, simply by calling 08705 850 850. The new service costs £20 for a one way journey and is available between London, Paris and Brussels. "

It is however much quicker with a folder. Pop it in a bag. Don't say you've got a bike with you and make sure one member of your party is on the train early enough to bag enough luggage space.

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Despite the efforts of the EU and national governments to introduce competition into public transport there are still national organisations running railways in Europe. The well-documented problems following British privatisation should have been a warning to other EU politicians and transport planners not to break something that worked. However most high-ranking politicians and civil servants tend to fly from meeting to meeting rather than travel by train. They tend to see any crackpot idea that offers private gain and reduced public investment as progress rather than a poorer deal for both traveller and taxpayer.

There is a European railway web site, which links to each railway system. In addition each national railway system swops data with the others. Thus it is possible to work out how to travel from Niederbain sur Moselle to Bogsworthy Junction via Toccata and Fugue Halt . We have even used the German Railways site to get timetable information when travelling from Walkden to Lancaster.

If you are travelling via London then Seat 61 (www.seat61.com) Mark Smith’s web site functions as a European web site. If you dig into his links and follow the methods he suggests, it is possible to travel far and wide by train at reasonable prices. Do not forget however to check whether the trains he suggests will take a bicycle unless you intend to take a folding bike.

Deutsche Bahn (German Rail) is the best public transport web site (www.bahn.co.uk) in the world. Its timetable information in English, French, German and Italian can be used to plan journeys all over Europe. Information on cheap travel in Germany can be found by clicking on this link.

Swiss Railways www.sbb.ch/en A good web site in English, French, German and Italian. It offers excellent timetable information. As an added extra you can book hotels and check the weather in your Swiss holiday resort

French Railways (SNCF and regional services TER) French Railway services are divided into two groups: Main line and regional services. If you only wish to travel a short distance you can click on a link on the SNCF home page that leads to a map of France to allow you select your region of interest. Not all but some of the main line services will take bicycles, including some of the high speed TGVs, whereas about 95% of all regional trains do. You can find out which mainline trains take bikes by clicking on conditions of service (in French) or check theSNCF bike site as well (in French). (Do not bother downloading the films. They tell you very little.) The English language conditions of service do not mention this. Probably no Frenchman expects les Rostbifs to know anything about cycling. If there is room in your train of choice you can pop your bike on the train in its SNCF-approved plastic cover and away you go. You can also reserve bike places on trains beforehand. One word of warning though, mainline trains do not take tandems.

You can travel with your bike on the railways internally in the Netherlands (NS ) (www.ns.nl) on most trains during non-peak hours. You have to buy a ticket and your bike needs one as well (6 Euro a day). You cannot travel on inland trains with your bike during the weekday morning and evening rush hours: (6:30 to 9 am and 4:30 to 6 pm), except during July and August when the Dutch migrate to other countries. There is a list of international trains offering bike places on the international section of the web site. Some of these like the trains from Venlo to Cologne or Heerlen to Aachen are local commuter trains that cross borders, but there are also trains to faraway places such as Berlin, Munich and Zurich. Putting your bike on an international train will cost you 12 Euro for a single ticket and 24 Euro for a return ticket at the time of writing. The web site is clear and easy to use in English and also in Dutch (I assume, though my Dutch is limited to "Let Op!" - beware!).

The Belgian railways (SNCB//NMBS) web site (www.b-rail.be) is theoretically to quote Radio Erivan, available in Flemish, French, English and German. In practice, for the last few months at least only French and Flemish speakers get a full look in. So brushez up votre Français s.v.p.! There are places for bikes on most Belgian trains. A bicycle ticket for a single journey will cost you 4.20 Euro and a tandem 8.10 Euro or you can buy a day ticket for 7.20 Euro or 14.30 Euro.

The Forsyths

Bergstrasse Bike Books

Post Box 1331,

D 68503 Viernheim, Germany

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