I wanted to comment briefly on the phenomenon of trains running on highly congested routes with large numbers of empty seats on them. I don't wish to pick on another user, but I thought that this comment in a recent thread deserved a little expansion: In many cases this is certainly already true, although there's an open question as to how effective that might be at the promotion of car alternatives. However, it's very frequently not true on the West Coast Main Line. Tonight, I'm on the 1740 London Euston to Manchester Piccadilly. I joined at the train's first call, Crewe. It's a 9 car train and optimistically there were 40% of standard seats taken from London. There was hardly anybody sat in Coach A, maybe 15 people. There were several unoccupied tables of 4 spread throughout the train. Of course, this isn't an especially large mystery. If we look at the prices on Thursdays of this train: 28th November £175 (sold out, Anytime rate) 5th December £91 12th December £148 19th December £91 9th January £91 Etc - to summarise it's close to impossible to get a ticket for this train is comparable on price with the 1900 and departures thereafter. For comparison, the price of the 1900 and later departures from London isn't more than £44.80 provided it is booked as part of a round trip, or exceptionally £88.60 if booked singly. Of course, the 1857 and especially 1900 on Thursdays have large numbers of standing passengers. To put it another way, the service is deliberately designed to carry only passengers paying very, very high fares after the 1500 and before the 1820 (the latter does have some £41 tickets usually, if you book very far in advance, but they all sell out). This implies they generate substantially higher ticket revenue from running empty trains than from optimising for a balance of sales and revenue. A very similar picture occurs with the 0755 Manchester Piccadilly to London Euston. I caught that last week to Tamworth (where I change for Birmingham). I appreciate the nice quiet journey, but even after passengers from Tamworth have boarded and there are no further stops before London Euston, only around 40% of seats are occupied - you can see that because the whole train has to draw past you as you walk along the platform. I'm not talking about Fridays or weekends as these are totally different. But I thought it was worth pointing out that, on at least one route, trains running at times when Off Peak tickets from Manchester to London aren't valid are very much not optimised for loading, but rather for revenue. I will be fascinated to see how the situation develops under the new franchisee. Final thought - have a think about how well loaded London Northwestern Railway trains are at around 1740. It seems to me that the passengers from the passengers from two Manchester bound services could probably fit into one 11 car train - say the 1700 and the 1720. If VT and their successor don't want to optimise for capacity, should they retain the right to these paths, which are afforded to them at an opportunity cost for London Northwestern Railway passengers.