How close to travel can you reserve seats?

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faddy

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At Blackheath ticket office at midday yesterday I asked to make a seat reservation on the 17:05 Euston to Chester, to be told it had to be made by 18:00 the previous day. However the chap said he would "try anyway" and a reservation was successfully made.

Is there an official cut-off time for reservations? (I'm expecting the answer "it depends")
 
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wintonian

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Depends some TOC's (inc XC I think) are 18:00 the day before and some are up untill 2hr before the train departs its originating station, unless it's really early (SWT used to do this)

I don't know who does what now as I rarely reserve seats unless travelling on an AP.
 

hairyhandedfool

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Advance tickets are up until the day before, but the exact tie apparently varies by TOC. Seat reservations for other tickets at the ticket office are two hours before the departure time from the origin station. Some train companies have a small allocation that can be booked upto ten minutes before travel by phone/text.
 

Simon11

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According to xc website, there is a trial with reservations that can be booked up to 10mins before the train leaves.
 

DaveNewcastle

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Yes, I too understand that the "up to 10 minutes before" may be withdrawn if unsatisfactory.
East Coast have been allowing somehting similar (at Kings Cross but possible elsewhere) just minutes before departure. The problem of course is that reservation vouchers will not appear on the seats. By contrast, most of XC's services use electronic systems which can download reservations and display them above the seats in seconds. Most, not all.
 

tony_mac

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By contrast, most of XC's services use electronic systems which can download reservations and display them above the seats in seconds. Most, not all.
And if you get one on a train with no electronic displays?

I had one on an HST, but as I found a free seat at the other end of the carriage, I wasn't going to risk losing it to go and find out.

I thought that the 18:00 cut-off was for Advance tickets, could that be what he meant? (I guess the two quite often go together anyway).
 

HowMuch?

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Is the !0-minute-ahead reservation system electronic? Presumably only an electronic sysytem can receive reservations 10 minutes ahead and display them on the seat.

A system that does not display on the seat is not a "reservation" system at all. It's just a random "right to bump" system.

If a passenger without a reservation gets on a train he will, if a responsible and public-spirited person, be looking for an unreserved seat. That is a seat with no indication that it is reserved at least to the next station, and if possible one that is clearly unreserved all the way to his destination.

At some point, the train may fill up. If someone then comes along saying the seat was reserved for them, is it unreasonable of our friend to say : "I'm sorry but if they told you they were going to reserve a seat for you, then they misled you. They did not reserve it (ie mark it as not free for general use)." ?

If he doesn't say that, or if the guard backs up the new passenger in the right to bump our friend from his seat, then he may have to stand up for the rest of the journey. I think he might well ask if that was reasonable, given that when he boarded he did check scrupulously that these was no indication that his seat was reserved for anyone else.

If the industry reponse to this is "tough luck, mate" then I would be very surprised. Certainly, an industry which respects its customers would not take that attitude to a customer who has tried to play his part in being reponsible to fellow-travellers.
 

faddy

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Got the 17:48 from Lime Street to Euston on Friday. My wife and I sat in our reserved seats, but noticed that the displays weren't showing reservations. At precisely 17:46 the TM announced that the reservation system was being a bit slow downloading, so could all passengers with reservations try to sit in their reserved seats and could all passengers without reservations please move to the unreserved coach.
 

MrJamesBrown

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Is the !0-minute-ahead reservation system electronic? Presumably only an electronic sysytem can receive reservations 10 minutes ahead and display them on the seat.

A system that does not display on the seat is not a "reservation" system at all. It's just a random "right to bump" system.

If a passenger without a reservation gets on a train he will, if a responsible and public-spirited person, be looking for an unreserved seat. That is a seat with no indication that it is reserved at least to the next station, and if possible one that is clearly unreserved all the way to his destination.

At some point, the train may fill up. If someone then comes along saying the seat was reserved for them, is it unreasonable of our friend to say : "I'm sorry but if they told you they were going to reserve a seat for you, then they misled you. They did not reserve it (ie mark it as not free for general use)." ?

If he doesn't say that, or if the guard backs up the new passenger in the right to bump our friend from his seat, then he may have to stand up for the rest of the journey. I think he might well ask if that was reasonable, given that when he boarded he did check scrupulously that these was no indication that his seat was reserved for anyone else.

If the industry reponse to this is "tough luck, mate" then I would be very surprised. Certainly, an industry which respects its customers would not take that attitude to a customer who has tried to play his part in being reponsible to fellow-travellers.
Yes the 10 minute before travel seats on XC are electronic and also have 'may be reserved' or words to the affect on the screen.

James
 

tony_mac

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Yes, they say "This seat may be reserved", which changes to "reserved" if you make a reservation.

I don't think the wording is ideal, as it doesn't clearly say that it may become reserved later in the journey, and I can understand people sitting there because it appears to be unreserved if nobody has claimed it.

I have made 4 or 5 of these reservations - and only got to use it once. This was when boarding at New St, so it is quite likely that the previous occupant disembarked there.

(due to a combination of the screens not working, no screens, and passengers already sat in the seat).
 

HowMuch?

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Yes the 10 minute before travel seats on XC are electronic and also have 'may be reserved' or words to the affect on the screen.

James
Thanks, James.

I heard of this on another thread and thought they were joking!

Can anyone suggest why XC would introduce such a bonkers idea ? Or is it bonkers? Perhaps I'm missing something here. Under what circumstances would they flag a seat as "May be reserved?".

I just can't see what benefit there is to anyone in knowing that a seat "may" be reserved?

And what does it mean, anyway ? The word "May" means so many things.

(a) "It's possible this seat is reserved at this moment, for the current stretch of line, but I'm afraid we are too incompetent to know. If no-one is sitting in it, please hang around to see if they turn up. If they do, then clearly we forgot about them, sorry, tough luck! If not, either this was a false alarm or someone DID reserve it and we forgot, so please sit in it, and keep it with our blessing for the rest of your journey"

or

(b) "It's possible that this seat has been reserved for someone further down the line, but I'm afraid we are too incompetent to know if it has been, or if so where from. You can sit in it for now but if someone turns up later then clearly we did reserve it but were to incompetent to remember. I know it's a bit annoying to have to shift all your stuff, and if all the other seats are taken by then, then it's tough but you'll have to stand for the rest of your journey. If there ARE some other seats free by then, hey isn't that lucky. Of course it WILL be a bit if a pain if they all say "May be Reserved" and you have to go through all this again, but, well, that's your fault for paying top whack for a flexible ticket so you could change plans at the last minute."

or

(c) This seat is NOT Reserved at the moment, and we HAVEN'T reserved it for further down the line. So please feel free to sit in it. But I'm afraid we MAY reserve it at any moment. Of course, we know that isn't really reserving it, more like , well, you know, kind of just er Kicking you out of your seat. And I know it's a pain having to ........ (see b above).

I'm not a genius, and I'm sure XC employ cleverer people than me. So they must think this is a good idea. But I'm honestly stumped here. I just can't see what I'm missing???????
 
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34D

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How hard would it be to equip seats with some kind of weight sensor, such that if an unreserved seat has a weight of at least 4 stones in it then that seat is no longer available to the text system?

Similarly, with seats that are reserved no-shows, if they don't register a weight then 10 mins after leaving their named station they revert to 'available'?

And yes, I realise that the weight tolerance would have to be chosen in a suitable way to differentiate between small child and suitcase on seat....
 
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