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Are people more reluctant to take a free seat due to Covid?

Horizon22

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If this is better in another forum, please do move it but it is somewhat Covid related.

A notable trend I have seen recently is trains getting busier as restrictions have lifted and people have begun travelling again - I'm sure many of us have seen this. What is also notable though is that some trains are being reported as "full and standing". Sometimes this is completely accurate but on more than a few occasions I've seen people crowding aisles, whilst seats remain free as people are still reticent to sit next to strangers.

If this is the case on certain trains, the capacity is essentially being reduced by 50%. Have many other seen this trend/habit appearing? Is it isolated to certain areas or when it gets to a certain level of crowding do people just plonk down wherever? How long do you think it will be before people are perfectly accepting - as opposed to a grudging reluctance which is what I'd call it now - of sitting down next to strangers.

Obviously for some this is frustrating. Late boarders might be ending up cramped in gangways unable to get around whilst seats are still free on other parts of the train. I'd hope crew will encourage people to use all available seats now but of course people can't be forced.
 
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greyman42

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I think what you describe has always been the case. Many a time i have boarded trains with people standing in the vest ends, but on walking through the
train have found vacant seats. On occasions i have had to ask someone to remove their bag from an unoccupied seat.
Whether Covid has made it worse i don't know. What is the difference to sitting next to stranger or standing next to one?
 

Horizon22

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I think what you describe has always been the case. Many a time i have boarded trains with people standing in the vest ends, but on walking through the
train have found vacant seats. On occasions i have had to ask someone to remove their bag from an unoccupied seat.
Whether Covid has made it worse i don't know. What is the difference to sitting next to stranger or standing next to one?

It's still very true that at many terminals the far end of the train can be lightly loaded, whilst people are standing in coaches closest to the concourse / gatelines. Perhaps it's always been true and Covid has just exacerbated this phenomenon.
 

yorkie

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Yes Covid has made it worse.

A small but not insignificant proportion of people have been struck by an unnecessary and unhealthy amount of fear, by the Government, the mass media and hysterical extremists on social media and they may be the ones doing this.

For example I was on a busy train a couple of weeks ago from London to Winchester with other forum members. The front coach was very busy but there were a few seats available. However a few masked people in the vestibule (90%+ of the people on the train were not wearing masks) were choosing to stand in that area rather than sit down, which seemed strange to me.
 

Kite159

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I was at Crewe last weekend where several trains had announcements along the lines of "this train is expected to be busy, passengers with flexible tickets are advised to travel on an alternative train".

Some people are still worried about sitting next to someone and will stand

Trains can be full & standing in one coach (i.e. the one closest to the platform entrance at a terminus) but empty in another coach. Or the announcement that a train is full & standing is made at one point in its journey where it was busy, but since emptied out or had extra coaches added)
 

Mag_seven

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I've seen people standing in the vestibules when seats have been available before COVID so I don't think its a recent phenomenon.
 

Ianno87

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For example I was on a busy train a couple of weeks ago from London to Winchester with other forum members. The front coach was very busy but there were a few seats available. However a few masked people in the vestibule (90%+ of the people on the train were not wearing masks) were choosing to stand in that area rather than sit down, which seemed strange to me.


So, aside from masks, just the same as pre-Covid behaviour...?
 

bramling

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So, aside from masks, just the same as pre-Covid behaviour...?

Exactly.

Trip Adviser for the Snowdon Mountain Railway is always an interesting read. They don’t seem to have any distancing measures on their trains at all (did they at any time?), apart from masks of course. Plenty of people are complaining about being penned 8 people per seating bay, as in normal times, and of course that not everyone has been wearing masks. Interestingly it seems none of these complainants decided to abort their trip.
 

Ianno87

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So, aside from masks, just the same as pre-Covid behaviour...?

I could swear I quoted all of Yorkie's post in this message for full context, but some of the quote has mysteriously disappeared....

HOW BIZARRE.
 

yorksrob

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Exactly.

Trip Adviser for the Snowdon Mountain Railway is always an interesting read. They don’t seem to have any distancing measures on their trains at all (did they at any time?), apart from masks of course. Plenty of people are complaining about being penned 8 people per seating bay, as in normal times, and of course that not everyone has been wearing masks. Interestingly it seems none of these complainants decided to abort their trip.

Aren't those carriages open air anyway ?
 

185143

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Exactly.

Trip Adviser for the Snowdon Mountain Railway is always an interesting read. They don’t seem to have any distancing measures on their trains at all (did they at any time?), apart from masks of course. Plenty of people are complaining about being penned 8 people per seating bay, as in normal times, and of course that not everyone has been wearing masks. Interestingly it seems none of these complainants decided to abort their trip.
To be fair, someone I know who went on it in Summer kind of made that complaint as they were told they couldn't go all the way to the top "due to social distancing in the cafe/facilities" yet were more than happy with people being crammed into the trains with no social distancing at all.
 

bramling

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Aren't those carriages open air anyway ?

Not really, though it possibly might feel like it at times as they’re pretty draughty.

To be fair, someone I know who went on it in Summer kind of made that complaint as they were told they couldn't go all the way to the top "due to social distancing in the cafe/facilities" yet were more than happy with people being crammed into the trains with no social distancing at all.

Absolutely that’s a valid complaint. I find it hard to see why they couldn’t to the summit.
 

yorksrob

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Not really, though it possibly might feel like it at times as they’re pretty draughty.

Ah cheers. I did get to visit North Wales once before lockdown, but didn't quite make it to the Snowdon railway.
 

bramling

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Ah cheers. I did get to visit North Wales once before lockdown, but didn't quite make it to the Snowdon railway.

It’s worth doing for sure, but I wouldn’t bother going on it just for views, as it really is pot-luck with the weather. Best thing to do is walk it up and down on a good day for the views (and of course to take photos of the railway in the process!), then do the railway separately. If lucky, as we were, you might even get good weather for that too. It’s generally better to go on the steam trains, more civilised all round, one place where having a reserved seat is worth its weight in gold!

I must say I’m a bit surprised they aren’t selling trips on a “per compartment” basis. Given how popular the railway is, I’m sure plenty of family groups would probably be happy to pay the extra cost this would entail.
 

yorksrob

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It’s worth doing for sure, but I wouldn’t bother going on it just for views, as it really is pot-luck with the weather. Best thing to do is walk it up and down on a good day for the views (and of course to take photos of the railway in the process!), then do the railway separately. If lucky, as we were, you might even get good weather for that too. It’s generally better to go on the steam trains, more civilised all round, one place where having a reserved seat is worth its weight in gold!

I must say I’m a bit surprised they aren’t selling trips on a “per compartment” basis. Given how popular the railway is, I’m sure plenty of family groups would probably be happy to pay the extra cost this would entail.

Yes, well I'm definitely meaning to get back there some time. I was very taken with Conwy and Llandudno.
 

Killingworth

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It's always been the case that many will board the train at the nearest point to the barrier or entry to the platform. Others will have worked out the coach nearest to the barrier at their destination.

Consequently many trains are full and standing in one coach and all but empty in another.

However I've noticed a greater tendency for bags to be placed on seats since Covid. A natural desire to have one's own space has been encouraged by the 'use window seats only' warnings. Previously that may have been challenged but nowadays we'd rather retire to stand by the doorway, thereby making the train look busier than it may be.

In the early 60s I well recall walking through about 8 coaches on a long ECML train from York before finding an empty compartment in the front coach. Yet further back it was rammed full.

More recently I was wating at Leicester for an EMR service to Sheffield. Platform anouncer said it was very busy yet screens said it had 9 coaches. I was one of very few to board the all but empty first half with refreshment trolley. At Sheffield the football team and supporters poured out of that full back half!
 
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bramling

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It's always been the case that many will board the train at the nearest point to the barrier or entry to the platform. Others will have worked out the coach nearest to the barrier at their destination.

Consequently many trains are full and standing in one coach and all but empty in another.

However I've noticed a greater tendency for bags to be placed on seats since Covid. A natural desire to have one's own space has been encouraged by the 'use window seats only' warnings. Previously that may have been challenged but nowadays we'd rather retire to stand by the doorway, thereby making the train look busier than it may be.

In the early 60s I well recall walking through about 8 coaches on a long ECML train from York before finding an empty compartment in the front coach. Yet further back it was rammed full.

More recently iI was wating at Leicester for an EMR service to Sheffield. Platform anoiuncer said it was very busy yet screens said it had 9 coaches. I was one of very few to board the all but empty first half with refreshment trolley. At Sheffield the football team and supporters poured out of that full back half!

It’s definitely the case that some people are being more picky about where they sit.

One which amuses me is declassified first on the 700s. I saw one go marching in there, pace up and down a few times, make a point of huffing, then storming off. I’m not sure if the problem was that there were more people in there than he would have liked, or that there were people without masks.
 

ChiefPlanner

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I had an interesting one a week or so ago on the proper !st class on Thameslink , where some old boy (reading the Old Testament and masked up) , had placed his walking stick across the seats to give him basically the whole seating area by the drivers cab for his own use. (8 seats)

So I asked him what this was all about - "social distancing" he said. My inital reaction was to boot the stick down the car , but I stepped over it, sat down and him and gently said it was a train available for the public and not a private "coupe" for his own use. He got off at Blackfriars -.....
 

bramling

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I had an interesting one a week or so ago on the proper !st class on Thameslink , where some old boy (reading the Old Testament and masked up) , had placed his walking stick across the seats to give him basically the whole seating area by the drivers cab for his own use. (8 seats)

So I asked him what this was all about - "social distancing" he said. My inital reaction was to boot the stick down the car , but I stepped over it, sat down and him and gently said it was a train available for the public and not a private "coupe" for his own use. He got off at Blackfriars -.....

The seats adjacent to the driving cab do seem to attract a special sort of person at times.

Interestingly the same used to apply on 365s with the row of airline seats right at the car ends - goodness knows why for those as they would be the noisiest and draughtiest seats on the train, as well as getting disturbed by people walking through. Always quick to fill though.
 

ChiefPlanner

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The seats adjacent to the driving cab do seem to attract a special sort of person at times.

Interestingly the same used to apply on 365s with the row of airline seats right at the car ends - goodness knows why for those as they would be the noisiest and draughtiest seats on the train, as well as getting disturbed by people walking through. Always quick to fill though.

Now the trains are overall busier , less of a social club for those who you do not want to engage. This action was taking a few liberties I thought......
 

cuccir

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It's also a question of habit. People have become used to having space on the train, and regardless of covid a 'full' train feels busier than it once did. People will get used to busy trains again!
 

MikeWM

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Interestingly the same used to apply on 365s with the row of airline seats right at the car ends - goodness knows why for those as they would be the noisiest and draughtiest seats on the train, as well as getting disturbed by people walking through. Always quick to fill though.

I certainly had 'favourite' seats on a 365 - the window seat on the first row on the right when leaving the vestibule and turning into the main body of the carriage. The reason for that was they were the only two (window) seats in the entire carriage that didn't have floor heating vents that would blow hot air all over your legs :) I was always fairly irritated if I didn't get one of those...
 

Kite159

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I've seen people standing in the vestibules when seats have been available before COVID so I don't think its a recent phenomenon.

3+2 seating some people will prefer to stand than squeeze into the middle seat if that's all left, or if they are only traveling a couple stops.

I've seen groups standing in the vestibule area when seats have been available but as the seats weren't together they preferred to stand together
 

bramling

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I certainly had 'favourite' seats on a 365 - the window seat on the first row on the right when leaving the vestibule and turning into the main body of the carriage. The reason for that was they were the only two (window) seats in the entire carriage that didn't have floor heating vents that would blow hot air all over your legs :) I was always fairly irritated if I didn't get one of those...

I always liked the table bay on the right, in the “end” section of the front car facing forwards. For the very reason that it tended to get a decent, but not head-on, blast of warm air from the under-seat heater beneath the seats on the opposite side. Very nice as this enabled having windows open without getting cold, even in the coldest weather - so the best of all worlds. The table bay on the left didn’t work so well as the fan heater prevented using the seat frame as a footrest, which was another wonderful feature of the 365.

Post “dumbing down” there were a couple of airline seats in the centre section which had extra legroom, which I believe was a product of the layout being changed round to accommodate priority seats, though IIRC these weren’t labelled as such. Regulars were certainly aware of this.
 

brad465

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Post “dumbing down” there were a couple of airline seats in the centre section which had extra legroom, which I believe was a product of the layout being changed round to accommodate priority seats, though IIRC these weren’t labelled as such. Regulars were certainly aware of this.
465s (and I think 466s as well) have this feature as well, and I often try to sit there, however it is also P-stickered on the windows next to them so one doesn't have to learn about their positions and favourability.

Early September I travelled from Inverness to Aviemore and back for a day trip while staying up there - the 3 car morning departure to Edinburgh was very busy, with a few needing to stand by each door, however I was able to sit next to a lady for my required journey after asking if her seat was free, and ended up having a good conversation with her till I got off, so no reluctance there.
 

Eyersey468

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Yes Covid has made it worse.

A small but not insignificant proportion of people have been struck by an unnecessary and unhealthy amount of fear, by the Government, the mass media and hysterical extremists on social media and they may be the ones doing this.
I completely agree
 

317666

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On more than one occasion I've seen peak trains off Cambridge where seemingly nobody is willing to sit next to a stranger or stand in the aisle, but people are more than happy to cram themselves ten-deep into the vestibules.
 

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