Mountain bikers awaiting a ride back into the Adelaide foothills have been blocked from trains, users have said, in an apparent crackdown on numbers by its newly privatised operator, Keolis Downer (KD).

Key points:

  • Adelaide’s new passenger train operators have been enforcing a limit of four bikes per carriageway
  • The rule’s enforcement has had a significant impact on the Mitcham Hills mountain bike circuit
  • Local MP Sam Duluk has backed calls for an extra bike-only carriage on weekends

The Mitcham Hills mountain bike circuit is popular with teenagers and schoolchildren, who ride the trails downhill from Belair before catching a train back up the hill to do it again.

The bikers, who also include adults, are on weekends the biggest user of the Belair railway line, where an equilibrium was found with its previous public operators that allowed them to stack their bikes on carriages with few passengers.

But teenagers Harry Bridgwood and Harry Comerford said on recent weekends when Mitcham station was “packed” with riders, they had not been allowed on the train.

“The train was basically empty and they still didn’t let anyone on it,” Mr Bridgwood said.

Mr Comerford believed it was due to “some rule” being enforced by the train’s new operators.

“It’s about trying to come out and have some fun with your mates, but they’re stopping it,” he said.

Petition launched

Mountain bike enthusiast Hayden McDonald said the past few weekends had seen a “crackdown”, with only four bikes allowed onboard at time, leaving others to wait for two or three trains.

“When it was run by somebody else, there was a rule, but it wasn’t heavily policed or cracked down on,” he said.

“There was usually only a dozen, if that, passengers using it.”

He has since launched a petition to “change the four bikes per carriage rule“, that has amassed more than 1,600 signatures.


The Belair Line only runs twice an hour on weekends and public holidays when it usually ferries low numbers of passengers — until the cyclists get on at Mitcham or Lynton.

Passengers are allowed to bring their bikes onboard for free, except during peak hour commuter times on weekdays.

Keolis Downer controversially took over the running of Adelaide’s trains and trams on January 31 after the state Liberal government privatised its operations — despite a pre-election promise that it “did not have a privatisation agenda”.

Enforcement for ‘safety’

KD Community Engagement officer Adam Smith told ABC Radio Adelaide there had always been a limit on bike numbers on carriages, but its enforcement now came down to the “discretion” of KD’s Passenger Service Assistance staff members.

He said they were primarily concerned with “safety” and the ramifications of there being an “emergency or accident” and people having to exit a train quickly.

“The PSA have, on occasion, used their discretion to stop large amounts of bikes for safety reasons,” Mr Smith said.

He said KD wanted to strike a “balance” for all types of passengers.

The Belair line travels through the Mitcham Hills where there are numerous mixed use trails.(

ABC Radio Adelaide: Malcolm Sutton


Mr McDonald said whenever he was on the train he reminded people not to block any exits with their bikes, but if safety was an issue, there needed to be “adaptation” rather than just kicking people off.

He said mountain bikers would be pushing for a bike-only carriage — a system used in many countries overseas.

MP backs bike-only carriage

Local Independent MP Sam Duluk said he was “disappointed” that riders were being told they could no longer “stack their bikes”.

He said he would likely raise the issue in Parliament this week and wanted to work with KD and the Government to “ensure we can have as many kids riding the train service back up the hill”.

“We know that Belair train line is always going to be well used by mountain bike participants, especially on a weekend,” Mr Duluk said.

“If that means we should be modifying a carriage, for example, that’s used on the weekend, then that’s an option.

Mitcham Railway Station can fill up with cyclists seeking a ride on sunny weekends.(

ABC Radio Adelaide: Malcolm Sutton


Mr Smith said the concept of adding an extra carriage was outside his “remit” but KD wanted to encourage everybody to use the train, including cyclists.

He said it planned to meet with affected community members and have discussions to find “ideas for a way forward”.