Grand Central reservations

Discussion in 'Fares Advice & Policy' started by Tim B, 20 May 2015.

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  1. Tim B

    Tim B Member

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    Hello Everyone

    Can anyone help me with this ?

    Some friends and I are visiting Middlesborough this weekend. Yesterday I booked 3 first class tickets on the Grand Central website on 12:53 Kings Cross - Eaglescliffe this Friday 22 May. Returning on 09:29 Eaglescliffe - Kings Cross Monday 25 May (the last Grand Central train of the day due to the strike)

    The booking system asked my seating preferences and I bought the tickets by credit card in the normal way, £ 87-50 per person for an off peak first class. When I printed out the tickets this morning at my local London station I was surprised not to be given any seat reservations.

    I have just spoken by phone to a Grand Central agent who searched their systems but cannot call up the relevant train seating plans and is unable to make reservations for me on either of these journeys. He can only say "travel is subject to availability of seats" and "get to Kings Cross early to obtain any unreserved seats". He stated that the company has high customer satisfaction and that people are perfectly happy to stand for 3 hours, even in first class, because the fares are cheap !

    I am gob smacked at this stupidity of this system. Every other long distance operator I have used in recent years automatically provides reservations for advance tickets whether first or standard class or even for the more flexible tickets when you specify the particular train you want. If I had known that their system was unable to issue reserved seats, I would never have booked on the Grand Central trains in the first place; I'd have gone with Virgin East Coast.

    I am surprised that Grand Central has such a high customer satisfaction rating when it's booking system seems so unsatisfactory.

    Do you think I am likely to be able to find unreserved seats on the services I have mentioned ? Perhaps I am worrying unneccessarily.

    Any comments / help will be very gratefully received !

    Tim
     
  2. Deerfold

    Deerfold Established Member

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    Although it doesn't explain the Friday, GC have suspended seat reservations between the 24th and 27th.

    http://www.grandcentralrail.com/tra...on-bank-holiday-monday-25-and-tuesday-26-may/

    I have quite happily printed seat reservations for GC before.
     
  3. andrewkeith5

    andrewkeith5 Member

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    Did you definitely see that it had allocated you seats when you booked?

    If no reservable seats are available the system is unable to reserve you any, but the message saying so is very easy to miss! I don't imagine first class is a particularly large compartment on Grand Central so it may be that the seats are mostly allocated to Advance tickets which might not be purchased.
     
  4. Deerfold

    Deerfold Established Member

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    £87.50 does appear to be the price of an Anytime Single, not an Advance.
     
  5. andrewkeith5

    andrewkeith5 Member

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    Indeed, hence my thinking that if the reservations are held for Advance tickets and flexible tickets get what's left, then it will show as if there are none available to the flexible tickets- the anticipation presumably being that not all the Advances will sell.

    I don't know for sure that this is how it works, and I don't think it should be, but I suspect/think it is...
     
  6. greatkingrat

    greatkingrat Established Member

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    25 May is Middlesbrough v Norwich in the Championship Playoff final. Therefore I suspect the 0929 from Eaglescliffe could well be absolutely packed.
     
  7. asharpe

    asharpe Member

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    Looks to me like first class is fully reserved, that is not at all unusual for just before a bank holiday.

    It's quite a common problem in both first and standard class. Once GC and VTEC sell their quotas of advance fares then the cheaper GC walk up fares become the cheapest. This means quite a few people will buy them, the first few get reservations but the rest (who keep on buying them) won't.

    And with the GC trains being much shorter than the Virgin trains this problem is magnified.

    BUT -I might be wrong on this - I'm pretty sure that on a HST there are 6 seats that are not usually reserved (in case of a set swap) I think your service is likely to be a HST from memory. So if you are lucky and get there early, you might be able to get them. But there could be competition.
     
  8. DarloRich

    DarloRich Veteran Member

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    I assume you didn't notice Boro were playing at Wembley on Monday ;) You might well be standing
     
  9. gray1404

    gray1404 Established Member

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    Could the passenger see if they can get a reservation in Standard and then if they would otherwise have to stand in first then go in standard and claim back the difference in fare?
     
  10. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    Is this in line with what the booking confirmation email states?
    I doubt he said that, but it is true that some people choose to stand on a train rather than take any of the other available options (e.g. travel at a different time/day, or by a different operator, or by a different mode of transport e.g. coach). I've seen many examples of this.
    There's a lot of text to this post, but we're lacking the crucial detail such as which website you booked on exactly, and what appeared on screen.

    The vast majority of websites will give a warning if no seats are reserved, but some do not give such a warning which is, in my opinion, unacceptable.

    The GC website does say that seat reservations are not available, and this is displayed before you book (see screenshot).

    If you booked with another website, which did not state this, and you do not wish to stand, then I suggest you contact them and insist they fully refund you. The tickets are refundable but I'd insist on not paying the £10 admin fee in these circumstances.

    The websites that fail to give seat reservation information before payment is taken do so for any operator, it has nothing to do with GC.
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    Yes you can get the tickets exchanged (or refunded entirely). Technically an admin fee applies but common sense would say this should be waived. If the issuer refers to do this, I'd contact Transport Focus.

    By the way the 0929 from Eaglescliffe will already be completely full and standing before it arrives at Eaglescliffe. You will be extremely lucky if you are able to board the train at all. If you want a seat, book with National Express instead. There is a 1045 departure from Stockton-on-Tees direct to London, for £40.
     

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  11. 55z

    55z Member

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    No seat reservations on Monday 25th May on Trans Pennine Express either.
     
  12. Tim B

    Tim B Member

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    Thanks everyone for your replies on this. In the end I have asked to refund the Grand Central tickets and have booked on Virgin East Coast; though the cost is slightly more at least there is a guaranteed seat. I am rather poorly and cannot stand for any length of time unfortunately.

    It is possible that when booking on the Grand Central website I failed to notice that the tickets I booked would not come with a reservation. I am sure though that I ticked the "do you want to reserve a seat box" and I definitely filled in my seating preferences. Some of you have said this could be made clearer with which I can only agree.

    As for returning Middlesbrough - London on Bank Holiday Monday, I am assuming that now the strike is called off there should be reasonable seat availability. Looking at the 09:29 from Eaglescliffe, Grand Central's website were selling Advance First Class fares for £87-50 with seat reservations when I looked this afternoon; so the service cannot be so filled with travelling footy fans as some people have suggested.
     
    Last edited: 21 May 2015
  13. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    Some websites don't inform you that no seat is available until after they've taken your money, but the GC website isn't that bad. However it does tell you (as shown in my screenshot above) but doesn't quite highlight it as well as it should do, in my opinion.
    That's the cost of a flexible 1st class single.

    I agree the train won't yet be filled with football fans, but it probably will be.
     
  14. Starmill

    Starmill Established Member

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    FORTY POUNDS to sit wasting your life on a coach for hours on end!?! My Goodness I thought National Express was supposed to be cheap!
     
  15. Deerfold

    Deerfold Established Member

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    They've got quite expensive for next Monday and Tuesday - I checked an overnight service down to London I occasionally catch for 8 or 10 quid and it was 32 for Monday night/Tuesday morning.
     
  16. Arctic Troll

    Arctic Troll Established Member

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    Demand-based pricing innit.
     
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