THE GOVERNMENT is to form a task force to represent cyclists? interests during rail franchise agreements, and to promote cycle access and simplify cycle reservations, the recent government White Paper reveals.

The move is welcomed by the CTC, the national cyclists? organisation, which ever since rail privatisation a decade ago, has continued to lobby the 26 rail companies to agree to a uniform cycling policy without prejudice.

Now it seems that the CTC?s Keep Cycling on Track campaign, which has involved thousands of cyclists across the country, has influenced Government thinking.

In their ?vision for the future of the railways?, the Government?s new task force, comprising ATOC, Cycling England, Network Rail and Passenger Focus, will concentrate on improving rail stations for cycling, seek to encourage more commuters to combine cycling with rail travel.

The success of the task force will depend upon the level of government funding it receives, and the CTC is urging government to provide a realistic funding and powers to make a real difference to cycling.

CTC President Jon Snow, said: ?Cycling and rail travel are perfect partners. The combination provides doorstep-to-destination option for longer distance journeys, which might otherwise be possible only by car. It is also a really simple way to set about tackling a whole range of problems all in one go: obesity, air pollution, congestions and climate change, to name but a few.?

The CTC say a successful cycle-rail policy will enable:

*door to door alternative travel

*commuters to cut total journey time by up to one hour

*an increases rail operator?s catchment area ? 60 per cent of commuters live with a 15-minute ride of their local station.

*bike-rail policy to increase cycling and lower car travel; support a wide range of health, transport, social and environmental objectives.