Coventry station bike rack delay blamed on uncertainty

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Campaigners have described the delay of a cycle rack scheme at Coventry railway station as "an absolute outrage".

The station is operated by Virgin Trains which currently runs the West Coast Main Line rail franchise.

Uncertainty over the future operator of the franchise means Virgin Trains has been unable to accept a £300,000 government grant, the firm said.

Cycle campaigner James Avery said parking for bikes at the station had been "inadequate" for years.

Last month, a decision to award the franchise to FirstGroup was scrapped due to "significant technical flaws" in the bidding process because of mistakes by Department for Transport staff.

Virgin's contract to run the West Coast Main Line expires on 9 December and there is uncertainty about what will happen after that date.

'Want to do more'

Coventry's railway station currently has space for 80 bicycles.

Mr Avery said: "Why should cyclists in Coventry be dragged into a franchise battle?

"It's a question of convenience and if people can't use their bikes they won't use the trains as often.

"It's an absolute outrage: Virgin Trains have had 13 years to provide adequate parking for bicycles."

Ken Gibbs from Virgin Trains admitted the firm had been unable to take up the money from the Department of Transport.

Plans to create 7,500 new cycle spaces at railway stations were announced in March.

He said: "We were never actually given the money, the time came when we would have to confirm if we could take it but we still have no confirmation we'll be running the station beyond 9 December.

"We have 80 spaces for bikes although they are not full every day.

"We accept there is an issue and we want to do more for cyclists."

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