One of the problems I have to deal with each day is to cross the River Mersey during rush hour. I’m not allowed to cycle through either of the tunnels and the ferry only runs every half an hour so the realistic choice is to take the underground train.
For a cyclist this poses a few problems; firstly, most of the lifts are tiny and to reach several of the platforms you have to take two lifts or one lift and a staircase. A greater problem are the trains themselves, most trains are comprised of three carriages and each carriage has two pairs of doors dividing the carriage in to three sections. The step up on to the train can be as much as 25-30cm (12″) which causes problems for anyone carrying a large object, or anyone with any sort of mobility issue.
Though, as you can see there are fold away chairs in the bicycle storage area and they are frequently occupied even when other seats are empty. The layout of the train is not conducive to carrying a bicycle, the doors are in the centre of the carriage, which is good, but there are partition walls as you can see above, narrow aisles and front/rear facing seats.
At peak times there is frequently not enough room to get a bike on board leaving cyclists on the platform and waiting for the next train.
This seems to go against the tide of opinion as pretty much every major metro system in the world uses a different layout, one that has seats perpendicular to the direction of travel and with a wide aisle.
Perhaps there are logistical reasons why Merseyside needs the front rear layout or more seats per carriage. It’s the same standard gauge width that the rest of the metro systems run on so that’s not it. It’s longest route is about 40km, not particularly lengthy.
I know Merseyrail are currently in the procurement stage of replacing the fleet by 2019. Let’s hope they do the bleeding obvious and choose a layout like most other metro rail services, allowing more people to get on each train with more space. This might also increase the number of people using the services and help keep fares down.