Surfers call on GWR to review board-on-trains ban

By Emma Hallett
BBC News

image copyrightJamie Monson

image captionMr Monson said: “When everyone is trying to make trains a useful way to get around, the rail line that services the South West, is seemingly the only one that will not take surfboards, which just seems absolutely crazy.”

Surfers are calling on Great Western Railway to review its policy banning surfboards on trains.

It comes after one surfer said police were called when he was told to leave a train travelling from London to Bristol because he had a board with him.

Jamie Monson said the policy was “crazy”, especially when rail travel is being encouraged.

GWR changed its policy early last year stating surfboards were not be allowed on its intercity express trains.

The company said the new trains no longer had space behind the engine, where boards had previously been stored, to enable them to provide extra seating.

Mr Monson was bound for surfing lake The Wave, a 180m long lake, which opened in Bristol in November, before the coronavirus lockdown saw it shut for more than four months.

image copyrightJamie Monson
image captionMr Monson said he has travelled by train all over the UK with his surfboard

Lake founder Nick Hounsfield said: “There is a real opportunity to encourage surfers to use trains, not only for travelling to The Wave but for accessing the whole of the south-west, if they review their thinking around surfboards.”

He spoke out after Jamie Monson, 41, from Stoke Newington, north London, was due to visit The Wave on Friday. But when he went to board the 07:23 BST train from Paddington he was asked to leave.

He said: “The trains at the moment are almost completely empty. I slotted my board in a luggage area, there was plenty of room.

“Then a train guard and two police officers turned up. I tried to reason with them, but they demanded I left the train.”

Mr Monson said he has travelled by train all over the UK with his board.

He missed his session and was able to re-book, but he will now be travelling by car.

image copyrightJamie Monson
image captionThe Wave agreed with Mr Monson saying there is a ‘real opportunity’ to encourage surfers to use trains

“The number of people travelling to The Wave or the south-west to surf is a big number and everybody is now forced to use a car. It’s just craziness,” he said.

A spokesman for GWR said: “We cannot take surfboards on long-distance trains because there is no feasible, safe storage space on board.

“Surfboards can be taken on our Night Riviera sleeper service from London to Penzance, which has different seating demands and space set aside for storage. We also continue to carry surfboards on local stopping services.”

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