Caledonian Sleeper Seat Reservation

Discussion in 'Fares Advice & Policy' started by Starmill, 16 Oct 2019.

  1. Starmill

    Starmill Veteran Member Associate Staff Events Co-ordinator

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    I have just called the Caledonian Sleeper to ask to reserve a seat on my forthcoming journey from Crianlarich to Fort William. I have a Glasgow to Fort William Off Peak Day Return to use on my journey. I called because it says this on their website:

    https://www.sleeper.scot/tickets/seats/

    Obviously there are no rooms available so that's not relevant. But I am told I can travel if I contact the Guest Services Centre to reserve a seat (Caledonian Sleeper choose not to allow this to be done online it seems).

    However, on the phone I was told that a seat couldn't be reserved for me, and that I would need to ask ScotRail. I expressed surprise at that, and it was explained to me that the Caledonian Sleeper service is 'divided into two parts' and is just a 'normal daytime train' on that part of the route. This seemed sensible enough, but I questioned what ScotRail had to do with it. The telephone advisor asked what company my ticket was for. I explained that I'd just booked a return from Glasgow to Fort William and it had no specific company written on it. They said that they would accept this ticket but that they could not give me a reservation. I asked if ScotRail could give me a reservation and they said that they did not know.

    I was a bit perplexed at this, so I asked why they couldn't allow me to get a reservation on their train when their website suggests that they can do that. They simply said that they couldn't offer one but that the train was a 'daytime train' which meant they would allow me to board. I asked them to clarify that this meant that I would be permitted to board even without a seat reservation, and to stand if there were no seats available. They said that boarding was subject to the availability of seats.

    Where exactly does this leave me? No alternative trains are available, because the train is 0746 from Crianlarich to Fort William, and the next is more than 3 hours later and would not be suitable for me.
     
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  3. Hadders

    Hadders Fares Advisor

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    I've been having this problem for years. Serco just don't grasp the issue.

    The timetable says the train is 'reservations compulsory'.
    It's not unreasonable for a passenger using this train to want a reservation for a journey that is up to 5 hours long.

    To demonstrate this farce https://uk.sleeper.scot/home will sell a ticket with an itinerary but when you click through to buy the ticket it says 'Seat Reservations Not Available' and 'Reservations Compulsory'.

    I have a strong suspicion that Serco are trying to remove the facility of using the seated sleeper as a normal train between Edinburgh and Fort William. They'll claim there's no demand but there never will be if you make it impossible to book tickets.

    I even escalated this to Transport Scotland a few years ago. Their grasp of the issue was even worse than Serco's.....
     
  4. Flying Snail

    Flying Snail Member

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    Seriously, there is no need to stress out over this, you have your valid travel ticket just board like you would any other train. Nobody is going to stand at the door denying you travel, it just does not happen.

    I would bet you will not only have a seat but you will have your pick of them, it is normally very quiet from Edinburgh and at this time of year I can't imagine it having large numbers of local hill walker passengers either.

    I have used the seats as a day passenger and never been asked to show a reservation. The staff are well aware that there is an issue and besides they are typical of rural lines, not at all interested in having a needless argument enforcing stupid policies for no good reason.

    99.99% you will get a seat and id not there is no chance you will be booted off.


    That seemed to be the case but then I was looking at fares a wile ago from Queen St to Oban and the cheapest was a £10 Caledonian Sleeper advance fare using the sleeper and their connecting coach.

    AFAIR it is part of the required service on the line, if the sleeper stopped taking passengers in both directions it would have to be replaced by a Scotrail service, unless that happens CS are obliged to accept local traffic on it.
     
  5. Starmill

    Starmill Veteran Member Associate Staff Events Co-ordinator

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    I wouldn't describe myself as stressed, just as interested in whether or not CS are telling me the truth.

    I would also say that I would like to sit down for the journey from Crianlarich to Fort William, and also be entitled to claim some compensation at least in the unfortunate event I can't. A reservation is plainly on offer as if I go to book an Edinburgh to Fort William Fixed Seat Advance I get one. So why not give me one? Simple question.
     
  6. Hadders

    Hadders Fares Advisor

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    I agree that getting a seat is highly unlikely to be an issue. That is not the point.

    The timetable states you need a reservation.
    It is not possible to get a reservation.

    They need to clarify the position and make it possible to purchase tickets. What I didn't mention in my earlier post is that the only sites I can get an itinerary on are uk.sleeper.scot/home (which is the old sleeper booking site) and trainscanbecheaper.com Every other booking site site says the train doesn't even exist....

    It is part of the required service on the line but that doesn't mean they can't try to change it......
     
  7. Starmill

    Starmill Veteran Member Associate Staff Events Co-ordinator

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    My experience of the use of the Cal Sleeper service from Fort William does not tally with the remotely. I've been refused food service, spoken to rudely by 'check-in' staff at Fort William, and I have been told that I need to ask the guard the guard for their list of which seats are free when travelling without a reservation. I then asked the guard and he didn't understand what I was talking about, and told me gruffly to sit in any seat that didn't have a label. On another occasion I was told off for walking through part of the train with berths in it when I was a seated customer to get to a toilet, because the ones in the seated coach were blocked. I would actually say that your description of them as "interested in having a needless argument enforcing stupid policies for no good reason" would be accurate in some cases. However, I don't really see what that has to do with my question: why don't they want to give me a seat reservation?

    Another reason I wanted a seat reservation was to provide evidence in support of a delay repay claim if the train is late. I feel this is necessary because some companies try to get out of paying them, which is an experience I have had with Caledonian Sleeper previously.
     
  8. Flying Snail

    Flying Snail Member

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    Scotrail site shows it and offers £10 advance fares from Glasgow. Doesn't list walkup fares however, even though they are valid.

    Just to clarify, I am not excusing the nonsense CS have created over the reservations, just pointing out that it does not translate to people being refused travel or hassled by the on-board staff who are no doubt well used to dealing with this.
     
  9. Hadders

    Hadders Fares Advisor

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    The fact that it's a 'day train' really means it should be possible to buy a ticket and obtain an itinerary for it on booking websites.

    It's rather strange that the overwhelming majority of sites make absolutely no mention of this train, despite it being the first arrival into Fort William from Glasgow, the next arrival being several hours later.
     
  10. Flying Snail

    Flying Snail Member

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    Every rule has an exception so I guess in this case you are it. All the interactions I have has on the WHL sleeper have been good and while I have had the odd bad experience on other sleepers I have heard few if any bad reports about the staff on this line.

    As has been said, this reservation issue has been going on since Serco took over so as much as you want an explanation and a resolution I doubt you are going to one beyond them being incompetent or recalcitrant.

    You can always request the guard to endorse your ticket, of course having read there is a chance you may encounter the same staff who will abuse you so who knows.

    Short of cornering the chief executive of Serco and standing over him while he instructs the responsible parties in CS to rectify the reservations there is little that seems to be doable to sort this situation out. Your options appear to be put up with it and travel or make other arrangements, Citylink 916 departs Crianlarich at 08.18 arriving at Fort William at 09.46.
     
  11. alistairlees

    alistairlees Established Member

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    It's because it's marked as a sleeper service. Most booking sites deliberately omit sleeper services, as they are permitted to do so. Unfortunately that means that daytime services that also double up as sleeper services suffer by not being shown.
     
  12. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    Do they omit the Night Riviera? Reservations are not compulsory on that - there are 2 coaches of Standard which are never, ever full.
     
  13. alistairlees

    alistairlees Established Member

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    Yes. The train is a sleeper train - it's that attribute that is being used. In the data this is "Train Category" of XZ (Sleeper (Domestic)) rather than XX (Express Passenger). Whether reservations are mandatory or not is not relevant (and, in any case, it is not possible in the data structure to have "reservations recommended" for seats, but "reservations compulsory" for berths / beds; hence the many problems and statements that 'reservations are compulsory', at least on the FTW sleeper seats within Scotland.
     
  14. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    The Riviera does not show "reservations compulsory" for anything. What you say is not the reason for it showing that, it's because the seats on the long haul are reservations compulsory due to the small number of them.
     
  15. alistairlees

    alistairlees Established Member

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    I know the Night Riviera doesn't have compulsory reservations in the data; I was referring to the Caledonian Sleeper service from London to Fort William. But my points still stand and are correct - many booking engines omit services that have a Train Category of XZ; and it isn't possible to have two types of reservation (such as mandatory and recommended) on the same service for different types of accommodation (or at all), as the data structure does not support this.
     
  16. philthetube

    philthetube Established Member

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    I can appreciate them not wanting to offer reservations for short journeys on the north end of the line as a large group booking would effectively mean the seats running empty from London the wherever, however, they should not be insisting on reservations and not offering them.
     

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