SNCF TER trains, has anyone ever been kicked off?

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SNCF TER trains, has anyone ever been kicked off?

Postby MrsHJ » Tue Jul 22, 2014 9:50 pm

We are travelling with the kids (8 & 10) to Brittany in August, ferry tickets are booked. We need to get the train from Roscoff to Redon in order to give us our planned route back.

A sLight glitch with our tour plans appeared on my visit to SNCF in Picadilly today. I'd already researched the train link and spoken to them by phone but when I got there today the agent said there were no bike spaces available on any of the TGV trains for the day we arrive in France. There is also no availability if we were to reverse our plans and get the train back from Redon.

The main alternative is a very long day (nearly 12 hours of hanging around train stations and 3 bits of train rides) for the kids using the TER regional train service or maybe a very expensive taxi ride. I am Researching the taxi option but before I commit to the TER option I'd be gutted to plan to use the TER train and then to be told that there were no bike spaces left as we could end up with a 15 hour day or, at worst, rushing around finding accommodation in Morlaix!

Are TER conductors likely to be accommodating on a quiet train if there are too many bikes do we think?

To put it in context we have had mixed experiences travelling with SNCF and bikes before. My husband did the pack it up small approach on a no bike TGV and got a lot of grief from the conductor ( he didn't get chucked off but is still a bit sensitive on the subject all these years later). I lost my bike for 3 days once using the send ahead system for bikes ( don't do this on a weekend). Having said that I have had a couple of good experiences with the bike including an amazing ride through the Cevennes down to Ales in the guards car and on another quiet TER type service but some years ago.

Ps I have tried the old threads and read the SNCF velo site.
PPS can anyone else get the maps to work on the SNCF velo site?
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Re: SNCF RER trains, has anyone ever been kicked off?

Postby Bogawski » Wed Jul 23, 2014 8:46 pm

Never had any trouble either getting tickets, avec velo on the TER train service but has always been off peak and solo. The trains and stations were very quiet, you would probably have no trouble just turning up but have a plan b just in case like the Hotel de la Gare!
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Re: SNCF RER trains, has anyone ever been kicked off?

Postby ANTONISH » Fri Jul 25, 2014 10:06 am

I think you are in much the same position as you would be here in a train with limited bike spaces. It depends if the train conductor (when did they stop being guards?) is prepared to be accommodating.
Last month I got on a Ter from Lille to Calais and found that some British student types had parked their BSO's against the walls in the bike space so that they intruded into the walkway ( they are supposed to be hung from the hooks). My touring bike added to the obstruction (I wasn't in the mood for an argument and I assumed the conductor would ask for the bikes to be stored properly) - as it happens the conductor squeezed past the bikes and said nothing.
I'm not sure about SNCF booking procedures. I travelled to Lille via Paris from Perpignan on an overnight couchette service. I booked a bike space but mine was the only bike.
I was told the only couchette space available was a middle one as all the others were taken - as it transpired I had a carriage with six couchettes to myself.
I wonder if travel agents book spaces ahead and then cancel later when the number of clients is fewer than anticipated.
Like you I used the Piccadilly office - I've booked direct with SNCF on the internet before but booking a bike space isn't possible - in fact now I find I'm redirected to Rail-Europe
( I suspect so that they can charge me pounds for euros )
The only alternative is dismantling the bike and putting it in a light bike bag with pipe lagging and bubble wrap to protect it. You would have to visit a "bricolage" to obtain the materials for the return. This is a bit of a hassle - especially if you have several bikes - but I've found it works for me (and my girlfriend if she is with me) and you don't need to book a bike on to train - or to find the bike spaces are all taken.
I hope things work out for you.
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Re: SNCF RER trains, has anyone ever been kicked off?

Postby jamesgilbert » Fri Jul 25, 2014 12:27 pm

You should be okay. I can't work out exactly which combination of trains you are planning on using, but the conductors would hopefully be understanding, especially as you are travelling with children. It could also be worth arriving half an hour early and having a chat with the SNCF person on the platform.

It's worth noting that not all TER trains accept bikes (http://www.velo.sncf.com/voyager-avec-s ... lo-en-ter/) but as far as I know there aren't any restrictions in Brittany. On TER's where bikes are allowed, there are no reservations, no charge for the bikes and no "bike tickets", you just turn up.

One minor point: would it be possible to change the typo in the thread title, as RER trains aren't the same thing...
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Re: SNCF RER trains, has anyone ever been kicked off?

Postby andymiller » Sun Jul 27, 2014 3:30 pm

I hate to be a downer, and I could be wrong, but I did a quick search on http://www.ter-sncf.com/Regions/bretagne and all of the options either involved the combination of a bus (no bike carriage) and a TER train, or a TER and a TGV train. As James Gilbert says, you can't/don't need to reserve bike spaces on TER trains, but that doesn't get you over the problem of the buses.

Maybe if you got a taxi to Morlaix that would give you more TER options?

EDIT: I was just wondering: did you mean to ask whether you are likely to be thrown off the *TGV*? I suspect the answer is you might get away with it or you might not. I'm not sure it's worth the gamble.

ANTONISH wrote:Like you I used the Piccadilly office - I've booked direct with SNCF on the internet before but booking a bike space isn't possible - in fact now I find I'm redirected to Rail-Europe
( I suspect so that they can charge me pounds for euros )


You need to go to RailEurope to reserve bike spaces, (or you can ring their call centre which, unless you live in Mayfair, is going to be the easier option) but if you just want to research train times - and more importantly which trains take bikes - then you have to pretend to be Australian or an English-speaking European: see this page: http://italy-cycling-guide.info/travell ... y-train-2/ for an explanation and a how-to. I can understand why the SNCF would want to redirect British customers to Rail Europe but why can't British customers get the same information as is available elsewhere in English on the voyages-sncf.com site?
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Re: SNCF RER trains, has anyone ever been kicked off?

Postby ANTONISH » Mon Jul 28, 2014 10:22 am

There is extensive information about French rail services on www.bonjourlafrance.com including tgv and ter.
You can find timetables between stations by entering start and destination and it gives a bike symbol where appropriate.
I used this site to research travel with my bike between Calais and Hendaye and returning from Perpignan to Calais.
The information may not be 100% -for instance the site suggested I could travel directly from Calais to Paris Austerlitz whereas I had to go to Paris Nord and ride to Austerlitz. Apart from that the timetable was o.k - I still had to use SNCF/Rail-Europe for the booking but it was useful to have the information when I made the booking.
It occurs to me that you could train your children to burst into tears as appropriate :wink:
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Re: SNCF RER trains, has anyone ever been kicked off?

Postby BeeKeeper » Mon Jul 28, 2014 10:31 am

The Seat61 site has some useful info: http://www.seat61.com/bike-by-train.htm#.U9YXUTfwuCo Look about a third of the way down this page where it says;

Bikes go free on suburban, local & regional TER trains: Bikes are carried free of charge in the luggage van on most local, suburban & regional (TER) trains. There are Monday-Friday peak hour restrictions on Paris commuter routes & a handful of regional TER routes, see http://www.bikes.sncf.com for full details.

The SNCF link will get you here if you drill down: http://www.bikes.sncf.com/your-bike-on- ... ng-trains/

Which says the same thing - bikes on TER are not a problem, which has also been my experience.
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Re: SNCF TER trains, has anyone ever been kicked off?

Postby MrsHJ » Mon Jul 28, 2014 8:52 pm

Thank you so much for all your comments everyone. I was hoping no news was good news, but at least none of you seem to have been kicked off! And the general sentiment seems to be it's ok. sorry, I don't seem to be able to change the typo in the title.

The SNCF site doesn't show all the TER trains but there is a separate TER site that does ( plus SNCF Picadilly gave me the times) or the German railways site does. The only two TER trains go from Morlaix to Rennes at about 3pm and at about 6pm. I CAN get a taxi to Morlaix, I've been given a price of €60 for the 4 of us inc bikes which would be ok if we had to rush to get the connection. Looks like we have the other problem though with dawdling around being the issue, as the RER from Roscoff is at 11am. Plenty of TER trains from Rennes to Redon, it's Morlaix to Rennes that is sensitive.

I'm just listing for my own reference my options so I can get it down on paper and stop thinking and take action.

1. TER Roscoff to Redon. Slow, cheap, risk of being kicked off.
2. Pop into SNCF (I work and stay in Central London 3 days a week) and see if they can split our journey with 2 bikes on each train. Medium cost and speed. Reserved bike spaces reassuring! But I think if this would have worked last time I visited they'd have said so?
3. Taxi from Roscoff to Redon. Quote is €460. Quick,painless, certainty but eye wateringly expensive.
4. See if I can get a cheaper quote for 4!
5. One way car hire ( difficult to assess but for a mid sized car IF I could get a bike rack it's not much cheaper than by taxi and insurance and bike rack would probably put it to the same). Expensive, quick, bit fiddly, certainty if I can sort out the bike rack.
6. Take the damn car.- about £420 return to change our ferry tickets, might be handy to have access to it but we'd have to leave it somewhere safe and come back for it which would be a faff. Expensive, could cost big chunk of time at the end, possibly convenient if we want to break the trip up a bit. We've done this before (just the adults) and find we don't cycle as far or as much as when we just take the no bikes but that might not be a big deal with the kids.
7. Cycle, duh (we don't have time or it changes our route to there and back again which isn't ideal psychologically).
8. My hubby suggested the bike bag route too but I'm not sure I can carry a bike and my stuff plus a kids bike and some of stuff, plus we are going to take up half a carriage of luggage space! Something to mull over further.

I'm thinking (1) is the least hassle, small risk of not making it but if we need to split up we can.
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Re: SNCF RER trains, has anyone ever been kicked off?

Postby jamesgilbert » Tue Jul 29, 2014 7:41 am

I think you'd be fine taking the TER option. If you can change your plans slightly, an alternative to the taxi from Roscoff to Morlaix would be to cycle, it's less than 30km.
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Re: SNCF RER trains, has anyone ever been kicked off?

Postby andymiller » Tue Jul 29, 2014 3:40 pm

You're right - there is a TER-TER-TER option. Sorry if I was alarmist but I knew that a lot of the trains out of Roscoff aren't actually trains.

I've always found SNCF train people very reasonable, and I think it's unlikely you'd be thrown off a train simply because there were too many people with bikes - I suspect they would do what British train people would do and make the best of it. I'm sure the SNCF train people don't like having to deal with unhappy customers any more than anyone else.

But assuming the worst, and taking one step at a time...

There are plenty or TER trains between Rennes and Redon so if the worst happens and you can't get on one, there should be another along soon after.

The most critical link seems to be between Morlaix and Rennes because most of the trains are TGVs. Your idea of splitting up and seeing if you can get two sets of two tickets on TGV services would be worth a try. Rail Europe have a call centre - you can just ring them: 0844 848 5848. OK it's an 0844 number but I don't think it's that expensive - and it's open until 7pm on weekday evenings.

As far as Roscoff to Morlaix is concerned, I'd also be tempted just ride it (there's a decent Voie Verte along the country lanes - definitely stay off the main road), rather than wait for the train, which might be a problem if there are a load of other cycle tourists arriving at Roscoff with the idea of catching a train onward.
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Re: SNCF RER trains, has anyone ever been kicked off?

Postby MrsHJ » Tue Jul 29, 2014 7:01 pm

andymiller wrote:You're right - there is a TER-TER-TER option. Sorry if I was alarmist but I knew that a lot of the trains out of Roscoff aren't actually trains.

I've always found SNCF train people very reasonable, and I think it's unlikely you'd be thrown off a train simply because there were too many people with bikes - I suspect they would do what British train people would do and make the best of it. I'm sure the SNCF train people don't like having to deal with unhappy customers any more than anyone else.

But assuming the worst, and taking one step at a time...

There are plenty or TER trains between Rennes and Redon so if the worst happens and you can't get on one, there should be another along soon after.

The most critical link seems to be between Morlaix and Rennes because most of the trains are TGVs. Your idea of splitting up and seeing if you can get two sets of two tickets on TGV services would be worth a try. Rail Europe have a call centre - you can just ring them: 0844 848 5848. OK it's an 0844 number but I don't think it's that expensive - and it's open until 7pm on weekday evenings.

As far as Roscoff to Morlaix is concerned, I'd also be tempted just ride it (there's a decent Voie Verte along the country lanes - definitely stay off the main road), rather than wait for the train, which might be a problem if there are a load of other cycle tourists arriving at Roscoff with the idea of catching a train onward.


Thanks Andy, I thought I'd update this for other people as I discovered an interesting trick at Piccadilly SNCF today ( it's maybe 15 mins walk or 5mins on the bus for me when I'm in London so less hassle than waiting on the phones). There weren't 4 spaces on any of the TGVs but we got 2spaces on the 14:20 one ( nothing available earlier) and the kids bikes will be bagged for that section ( and I will stick our panniers together so that we have only two items of luggage each). That's the difficult bit so the rest should be fine.

The interesting trick though was not try to book a through train, booking the TGV leg separately was the only way to find the spaces. Thought people might like to know that. And thank you to the patient French lady who managed my booking!

I'll mull over the voies verte, trying to keep it as simple as possible for the sprogs especially my 8 Year old who struggles with change and unexpected stuff ie I don't want to scare him off, that why I'm heading for the canal section to start from.
Last edited by MrsHJ on Thu Jul 31, 2014 6:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: SNCF RER trains, has anyone ever been kicked off?

Postby andymiller » Thu Jul 31, 2014 4:33 pm

Glad you're sorted. Putting the kids' bikes into a bag is a good wheeze that I've never heard anyone mention before.

MrsHJ wrote:I'll mull over the voies verte, trying to keep it as simple as possible for the sprogs especially my 8 Year old who struggles with change and unexpected stuff ie I don't want to scare him off, that why I'm heading for the canal section to start from.


I mentioned it mainly as a way to avoid the main road. It's basically a fairly simple route through the country lanes with minimal traffic. There's a nice little map here:

http://www.lavelodyssee.com/troncons/roscoff-carhaix

IIRC (I did it a few years ago) it was signposted for most of the way except for the village (SaintPaul de Léon) mid-way. The VV goes right past the ferry terminal (unless they've moved it).

There's not much in the way of unexpected things (good or bad): you could play vegetable ABC but once you've done artichokes, broccoli/brussel sprouts, and cauliflower/cabbage you've pretty much exhausted the possibilities.
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Re: SNCF TER trains, has anyone ever been kicked off?

Postby geocycle » Thu Jul 31, 2014 7:40 pm

I did the morlaix to roscoff section yesterday. The tour de manche guide describes it as intermediate. I'd agree, it is certainly not easy, and I'd think an 8 year old would find some bits tough. Mine would have given up when that age. Also the bit close to roscoff is quite convoluted with some rough surfaces in comparison to most of the preceding 450 miles. It does avoid traffic though. The voie Verte are offroad routes which in Normandy are mainly old rail trails and an excellent long path along the river Vire.

Conversely there were loads of bikes getting off at Lannion and Morlaix stations, although I didn't check individual trains.
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Re: SNCF RER trains, has anyone ever been kicked off?

Postby MrsHJ » Thu Jul 31, 2014 9:47 pm

ANTONISH wrote:It occurs to me that you could train your children to burst into tears as appropriate :wink:


Just reread and saw this, chuckling. Well, exactly, the sprogs do have their uses and I'm guessing if anyone gets kicked off the TER from a Roscoff it wouldn't be us! Having said that I will have the taxi number with me. I'm going to pass on the voie verte unless we are really stuck. Cycling the corniche into Morlaix is of course also a lovely ride so bagsy me be the one to be evicted from the train if it will take some but not all of us!!

I'm pretty chilled about the journey now that we have the TGV leg booked ( normally I'd have been totally chilled about the whole thing but taking the kids does put me in a much more cautious frame of mind). En avant.
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Re: SNCF TER trains, has anyone ever been kicked off?

Postby MrsHJ » Sat Aug 23, 2014 9:25 am

Quick report for others contemplating a similar route or tours with kids.

TER was fine Roscoff to Morlaix although there was a lot of hanging around and a certain amount of fractious behaviour from the kids. The small one nearly threw his bike into the hedge between the port and the station (2km at most) as he was so wound up by panniers, roads and hills! (He'd refused a test run before we left). The train had two bike hangers but a lot of folding seats that could be either used or make space for extra luggage and bikes.

The TGV Morlaix to Rennes (pre,booked) only had two bike spaces as far as I could see and we effectively had private 2nd class compartment at the end of first class right adjacent to the bikes. The bikes went in in regular position to be strapped to collapsed seating section. There was plenty of space for the kids bikes in bags next to our bikes and no challenge from the ticket collector.

The TER from Rennes to Redon was packed. There were 3 hanging bikes places in our carriage and we think there may have been the same further down the train. The smallest bike went in an open space luggage area again with collapsible seats. This train was totally rammed with people and luggage and we wouldn't have been able to fit on if we'd been later arriving ( it commenced at Rennes). However people were very nice about moving stuff around when it came time to get off.

It was a long day with far too much hanging around but doable.

Interestingly the buses apparently take bikes in July and August in some parts of Brittany. We saw them with bike racks on the back (the SNCF buses). We have the leaflet if anyone is interested for future years but they finish taking bikes on 24 August for this year. You need to book 24 hours in advance according to the leaflet.

On our return we didn't quite make it to Morlaix, instead we got to Carhaix and I used AB taxis in Roscoff to get us back to the ferry. That cost 130 euros which was fine for us compared to the hassle of getting the bus or very limited train service (two changes and a 6:30 am first departure) to get us into the 4pm ferry. I would highly recommend the taxi, he had a four bike rack and cut our up journey time (and hassle) down to just over an hour. We would have had to stay in a hotel and had a lot more stress to get the train or bus and make it to the ferry in time.

Return cycle through Roscoff to the ferry: junior kid now totally comfortable with roads, hills and panniers. No moaning so we have made good progress with the psychology! and we also cycled about 230km mostly along the Nantes Brest canal. This route was ideal for families and there were plenty of French families with no special kit doing the same route and camping.
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