LNER reservation compulsory from 18 May! (Update: other TOCs limiting capacity but not requiring reservations)

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Mainline421

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If you are travelling on LNER services from Monday 18th May you will need to make a reservation before you travel. During the coronavirus outbreak, space on public transport will be extremely limited. Please only use public transport if you have no other option. Help us keep the railway clear for those who need it most.
I really hope this is only temporary, Realtime Trains is showing this on WTT schedules for this period which as someone who used LNER and it's predecessor regularly is extremely concerning (the only time I've ever had a reservation on LNER is an advance on the Chieftain). The walk-up railway is essential for many people especially the commuters it is supposedly primarily aimed at right now.

Without a clear end date indicated I fear this may be used to try and sneak in a permanent change under the guise of "social distancing" effectively turning the East Coast Mainline from a public transport artery to an airline on rails.
 
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duncanp

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It is not just LNER, Avanti West Coast are at it as well, under the guise of "social distancing".


Rail passengers have been urged not to turn up at stations without an advance ticket and to wear face coverings when they travel on the West Coast Mainline.

Avanti West Coast made the announcement as part of new social distancing on its services between Glasgow, Manchester, Birmingham and Leeds.

Passengers might be refused travel if the guidelines are not followed.

The measures take effect on Monday and Avanti says it may not allow carriages to be more than a quarter full.

"We're appealing to our valued customers to help us and other passengers by only travelling with a reservation," said Avanti West Coast's managing director Phil Whittingham.

"If everyone does this, we'll be able to keep social distancing in place on board, both for our customers and our people.

"If customers do turn up without a reservation, we'll do our best to help but we can't guarantee they'll be able to take the train they want."

The train operator is asking passengers to book in advance on the Avanti mobile app where possible, and to avoid using facilities at the station or handling cash.
People should also check before they travel, in case the time of their train has changed.

Other measures being introduced by Avanti include face masks for staff, while waiting rooms and lounges will be shut.

There will also be enhanced cleaning procedures on board trains and at stations, focusing especially on cleaning door buttons, grab handles, tables and all touch points, as well as equipment such as phones, chip and pin machines, self-service ticket machines and point of sale systems.

Shops on board Voyager services, which travel between London and destinations such as Blackpool, Shrewsbury, Birmingham, Edinburgh and North Wales, will be closed and no food and drink will be available.

The shops on Pendolino services will still be open, but re-usable coffee cups will not be accepted.

Increased train services
Avanti said a new timetable was being brought in from Monday, in line with updated travel advice from the government that will see train services increase to about 70% of the normal timetable.

During the coronavirus pandemic only half of normal rail services have been running.

Chiltern Railways also revealed a new timetable, which comes into force on 18 May, and has advised its passengers to book tickets in advance where possible and to wear masks.

The company - which operates trains between London Marylebone and Aylesbury - also told travellers to avoid rush hour and allow more time for their journey.

Meanwhile, bus operator National Express says it has begun selling coach tickets for a restart to services on 1 July, subject to government advice.

The easing of travel restrictions is likely to be done gradually - the government has suggested that working hours might be staggered to limit passenger numbers.

People in England who are allowed to return to work have been asked not to use public transport if possible.

If maintained, the two-metre social distancing measure would cut capacity on trains by up to 90%.

A recent Transport Focus survey suggested more than 60% of UK passengers would not feel comfortable using public transport unless social distancing was in place.

It found 51% would not be happy unless passengers were required to wear masks.
If Avanti are running 70% of normal services, whilst only allowing carriages to be 25% full, that means that the capacity of the West Coast Main Line will be 17.5 % of a full service.

I can't see how they would enforce it. They might get away with it at barriered stations such as London Euston, but what about at places like Milton Keynes Central, Preston, Sandwell and Dudley, Stockport and Carlisle?

Also what happens when there are the inevitable signal failures, weather related delays, strikes etc? If you have been waiting on the platform at, say, Preston, for ages, and a train to your destination rolls in with only 17.5% of the seats occupied, how are you going to prevent people from boarding.

This will become more acute if foreign travel for UK citizens is heavily restricted this year. Demand for internal travel will increase significantly, and how Cross Country and GWR are going to cope with services down to the South West doesn't even bear thinking about.

I do think that Coronavirus is being used as an excuse by some train companies to restrict the use of Anytime and Off Peak tickets.

Mind you, all this may become academic later this year if the railways are effectively nationalised when the current temporary arrangements finish. If passenger numbers are restricted under the guise of "social distancing", then many of the existing franchises will not be profitable anymore.
 

westv

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I'm not sure what you expect them to do. "Social distancing" is requested by the Government and most people should try not to use public transport at the moment.
 

Bantamzen

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It is not just LNER, Avanti West Coast are at it as well, under the guise of "social distancing".




If Avanti are running 70% of normal services, whilst only allowing carriages to be 25% full, that means that the capacity of the West Coast Main Line will be 17.5 % of a full service.

I can't see how they would enforce it. They might get away with it at barriered stations such as London Euston, but what about at places like Milton Keynes Central, Preston, Sandwell and Dudley, Stockport and Carlisle?

Also what happens when there are the inevitable signal failures, weather related delays, strikes etc? If you have been waiting on the platform at, say, Preston, for ages, and a train to your destination rolls in with only 17.5% of the seats occupied, how are you going to prevent people from boarding.

This will become more acute if foreign travel for UK citizens is heavily restricted this year. Demand for internal travel will increase significantly, and how Cross Country and GWR are going to cope with services down to the South West doesn't even bear thinking about.

I do think that Coronavirus is being used as an excuse by some train companies to restrict the use of Anytime and Off Peak tickets.

Mind you, all this may become academic later this year if the railways are effectively nationalised when the current temporary arrangements finish. If passenger numbers are restricted under the guise of "social distancing", then many of the existing franchises will not be profitable anymore.
All I am going to say, the good people of Leeds are going to be surprised when they can't just board an Avanti service that never served Leeds in the first place.... ;)

Avanti West Coast made the announcement as part of new social distancing on its services between Glasgow, Manchester, Birmingham and Leeds.
 

PupCuff

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The problem with reservations compulsory services at present, as touched on in the OP, is that the people who are most likely to need to use public transport are they key workers working shifts in hospitals, police stations etc who need to be at work at a certain time and if they're busy might not know what time they'll end up finishing - the last thing we need are our nurses and doctors not being able to treat people with Coronavirus because the train was already fully reserved, or being stuck on Coventry station for three hours after their thirteen hour shift because they couldn't book a seat on the app.
 

Domh245

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The problem with reservations compulsory services at present, as touched on in the OP, is that the people who are most likely to need to use public transport are they key workers working shifts in hospitals, police stations etc who need to be at work at a certain time and if they're busy might not know what time they'll end up finishing - the last thing we need are our nurses and doctors not being able to treat people with Coronavirus because the train was already fully reserved, or being stuck on Coventry station for three hours after their thirteen hour shift because they couldn't book a seat on the app.
The number of people making such journeys on long distance TOCs like Avanti & LNER is small. Even in such cases, it is eminently possible for discretion to be applied by train staff - they won't be stood at every door enforcing the reservations, and they won't be stopping the train to remove them, particularly if they are a key worker..
 

duncanp

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I'm not sure what you expect them to do. "Social distancing" is requested by the Government and most people should try not to use public transport at the moment.
And if you don't have a car or other transport of your own, what are you supposed to do?

Just hide away and not go out or not do anything for the next couple of years until a vaccine is found?

After 9/11 in the United States, a lot of things were done in the name of "security" which were not really necessary. I think the same will happen with coronavirus and social distancing. For example, if we are going to have social distancing on trains, why can't we have the lower limit of 1 metre that is recommended by the WHO, and has been adopted by several other countries with lower infection and death rates.

I suspect that, over time, staff at Avanti, LNER, GWR etc will get tired of enforcing these rules, as it will be more hassle than it is worth. and things will go back to something approaching normal. Especially if experience in other countries shows that loosening regulations doesn't lead to a rise in cases.
 
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PupCuff

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The number of people making such journeys on long distance TOCs like Avanti & LNER is small. Even in such cases, it is eminently possible for discretion to be applied by train staff - they won't be stood at every door enforcing the reservations, and they won't be stopping the train to remove them, particularly if they are a key worker..
You'd certainly hope not, but corridors like Crewe-Warrington-Wigan, Grantham-Newark-Retford-Doncaster are examples of situations where it is could happen. And will traincrews be willing to show discretion - the unions are being rightfully protective over the safety of both their members and the essential travellers using the service.
 

Smidster

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And if you don't have a car or other transport of your own, what are you supposed to do?

Just hide away and not go out or not do anything for the next couple of years until a vaccine is found?

After 9/11 in the United States, a lot of things were done in the name of "security" which were not really necessary. I think the same will happen with coronavirus and social distancing. For example, if we are going to have social distancing on trains, why can't we have the lower limit of 1 metre that is recommended by the WHO, and has been adopted by several other countries with lower infection and death rates.

I suspect that, over time, staff at Avanti, LNER, GWR etc will get tired of enforcing these rules, as it will be more hassle than it is worth. and things will go back to something approaching normal. Especially if experience in other countries shows that loosening regulations doesn't lead to a rise in cases. However the Nazis on the Avanti gateline at London Euston will in their element.
I completely agree with this.

Some of the things that are proposed seem wildly disproportionate to the risk of infection.

For example what is the evidence to suggest that the risk of someone sitting back to back is similar to when you are facing someone (or on the same row) As long as you do not turn around (or indeed where a mask) you surely have a fairly good barrier between you. Yes some molecules may remain in the atmosphere but it feels like we are taking things to the extreme. A course in relative v absolute risk would not go amiss!
 

nidave

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How is this going to work with Avanti services between Coventry and Wolverhampton? Especially if you have a nnetwork pass or use swift pay as you go? Completely unenforceable
 

nidave

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The number of people making such journeys on long distance TOCs like Avanti & LNER is small. Even in such cases, it is eminently possible for discretion to be applied by train staff - they won't be stood at every door enforcing the reservations, and they won't be stopping the train to remove them, particularly if they are a key worker..
Have you ever been on a Avanti service from Coventry to Birmingham? Frequently standing room only even on off peak services.
 

Iskra

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You'd certainly hope not, but corridors like Crewe-Warrington-Wigan, Grantham-Newark-Retford-Doncaster are examples of situations where it is could happen. And will traincrews be willing to show discretion - the unions are being rightfully protective over the safety of both their members and the essential travellers using the service.
It's going to have an adverse effect on other operators too. LNER run the longest trains between Wakefield Westgate and Leeds. Firstly, the practicalities of enforcing this in the peaks is not going to be easy and secondly, it will just further swamp XC and Northern trains that are already busy; adversely affecting social distancing on those trains instead.

Imagine wanting to travel between London and Edinburgh on the day now, how many people is it going to put off using rail? GC and HT operate 5 car trains, which also could be swamped with any walk-up customers (when they run). Currently, you'd have to get a Chiltern train to Moor Street or a stopper to New Street on the WCML, then travel Birmingham to Manchester, Liverpool or York and then get a TP train from any of those.

And yes, as speculated upthread: I can see this being one of those decisions that never gets reversed. This works (well) where there is enough capacity on the local and regional trains for walk-up tickets, but clearly we don't have that in many places.
 

nidave

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People don't pile on Avanti services between Watford and Euston...the Brummies will just have to discipline themselves too.
That's because you aren't allowed to board Avanti trains at Watford Junction heading for Euston, whereas it's actively encouraged in the West Midlands (Avanti accept Network West Midlands passes)
 

Bletchleyite

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And yes, as speculated upthread: I can see this being one of those decisions that never gets reversed. This works (well) where there is enough capacity on the local and regional trains for walk-up tickets, but clearly we don't have that in many places.
It remains my view that ALL TOCs need to do this for a period of time while things are ramped back up. It could be done by way of counted places, though specific seats is better.
 

Iskra

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It remains my view that ALL TOCs need to do this for a period of time while things are ramped back up. It could be done by way of counted places, though specific seats is better.
It's not practical for local journeys. What do you do if you get to the stations and the trains are full? People still need to get to work. How does a conductor stop people boarding at an unstaffed station?
 

Bletchleyite

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It's not practical for local journeys. What do you do if you get to the stations and the trains are full? People still need to get to work. How does a conductor stop people boarding at an unstaffed station?
As with the lockdown which has mostly been pretty much unenforced, in the situation people will comply.

You don't get to the station and the trains are full, you book in advance, that's kind of the point.
 

Iskra

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As with the lockdown which has mostly been pretty much unenforced, in the situation people will comply.

You don't get to the station and the trains are full, you book in advance, that's kind of the point.
I think this is entirely impractical and unenforceable. Changing the way people have commuted for years overnight is going to cause issues and people will not accept the risk to their jobs.
 

hexagon789

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I think this is entirely impractical and unenforceable. Changing the way people have commuted for years overnight is going to cause issues and people will not accept the risk to their jobs.
People are just going to have to get used to it. The current restrictions are pretty well understood now so I don't see how the railways will be any different in that regard
 

LNW-GW Joint

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The BBC headline is currently "Coronavirus: LNER East Coast passengers forced to buy advance tickets"

Am I missing something here? https://twitter.com/LNER/status/1261205817870749698 says seat reservations will be compulsory but says nothing about the validity of flexible/season tickets changing.
The media reporting is very poor, also for Avanti's policy.
They keep saying (just been repeated on R5) you must buy Advance tickets (which come with a reservation).
I'm sure the TOCs mean you need to make a Reservation in advance, which is an extra (free) facility when you buy flexible tickets.
On Avanti it appears you can board without a reservation, but only if there is space within the social distancing rules.
That's different to LNER where it appears a reservation is to be mandatory.
They also want you to buy tickets "in advance" to avoid using station or on-train options.
 

cuccir

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Something like this is likely to be necessary, but I think:

1. This is very poor communication

Look at the tweet announcing this - there are responses from people who will be commuting on Monday morning who now have no information as to how they can travel. To annoucne this, 3 days before it is implemented and the working day before it is implemented, is irresponssible. I notice on their website that the timeframe for implementation has already slipped to 11:00 on Monday: they really needed to have the system in place now.

2. It will require rolling out to all TOCs, or at least, to all TOCs on stretches of line where any single TOC is using this system
I'm among the people who in normal times commute on a stretch (Durham - Newcastle, although really this applies on the whole York-Newcastle ECML) of track where LNER in provide 1 in every 5 trains, which are also the longest trains; in the timetable as of Monday 18th May, the provide 1 in every 3 trainns. Given that leisure travel is more or less banned at the moment, travellers on rail over the next few months will be predominatly commuters. But without implementation across all TOCs, I can only imagine that most people who are oblidged to commute on this strech of line will in the majoirty chose the TPE/XC trains, which are much smaller and on which social distancing will be much harder.

Thankfully, I don't anticipate it being necessary to be in the office more than once or twice until October, and I also have very flexible working times when I am in the office, so I can work with this. Others will be much less fortunate, particualrly as more industries open up from the start of June onwards. Without coordination across other TOCs, those TPE/XC trains will get busier and busier.

If there is any intention to make this a long-term arrangement until vaccine/treatment, then I hope that (and it will only work if) it is coordinated across all TOCs. I'd like to see it combined with reduced long-distance services, and those trains being repurposed to bolster the number of short-distance services, given that leisure travel will have to remain a very low priority for the forseeable.
 

Non Multi

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Where the intercity services are the de facto semi-fast local trains, I expect some will give up on rail, never to return. Sad.
 
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