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Mandatory reservations, recommended reservations, meaningless reservations

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Skymonster

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We have LNER: reservations are mandatory
We also have Cross Country: reservations are strongly recommended

Now, we have EMR that seems to be suggesting even if you have a reservation you may not be allowed on a train: “As we get closer to the final day in service our HST services might get busier than usual... In some instances, boarding controls may be in place at the station meaning not everyone who would like to board a certain service will be able to, even if you have a ticket for a specific service.”

Yes I get it, it’s a special occasion and demand may be high. Yes, controls may be needed. But is it not beyond the whit of EMR to board all those with reservations before they allow others with open tickets on a train - especially at St Pancras where there are gate controls?

So some non-enthusiast customers may be innocently booked / reserved on the final HST services and might be denied boarding. That’s s**t. Is there any wonder the public gets confused when there are so many different - and frankly mapcap - policies? I hate the idea of compulsory reservations, but maybe this is a case where they are required?
 
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Master29

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I would think EMR would have the foresight to make proper arrangements in that one case surely much like LNER are GWR did on their respective last days.
 

robbeech

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We have LNER: reservations are mandatory
We also have Cross Country: reservations are strongly recommended

Now, we have EMR that seems to be suggesting even if you have a reservation you may not be allowed on a train: “As we get closer to the final day in service our HST services might get busier than usual... In some instances, boarding controls may be in place at the station meaning not everyone who would like to board a certain service will be able to, even if you have a ticket for a specific service.”

Yes I get it, it’s a special occasion and demand may be high. Yes, controls may be needed. But is it not beyond the whit of EMR to board all those with reservations before they allow others with open tickets on a train - especially at St Pancras where there are gate controls?

So some non-enthusiast customers may be innocently booked / reserved on the final HST services and might be denied boarding. That’s s**t. Is there any wonder the public gets confused when there are so many different - and frankly mapcap - policies? I hate the idea of compulsory reservations, but maybe this is a case where they are required?
I don’t think this is a case where they are required, providing those that have them are allowed to use them and everyone else has to slot in if they can.

if I had a flexible ticket and I seat reservation and I was told the train was full I’d be annoyed but I would have to accept it (though I would most certainly claim delay repay).

if I had a flexible ticket AND a seat reservation and I was told I could not board as people without seat reservations had boarded the same would apply but it would likely involve a complaint too.

If I had an advance single and I was told I could not board I would be very annoyed indeed, despite the financial element being lower.

it’s beyond appalling and incredibly hypocritical to be so harsh on “booked train only” tickets, with people ended up in court for getting the wrong one and the railway being able to tell you to sod off when it suits. But, alas, it’s complete expected.

I’ve no doubt they’ll be doing what they can but these things always end up in a farce, and they always hinder regular passengers far more. If they’re worried about capacity on a particular service they should substitute 2 5 car 222s in to take up the slack :)
 

Ianno87

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if I had a flexible ticket AND a seat reservation and I was told I could not board as people without seat reservations had boarded the same would apply but it would likely involve a complaint too.

EMR are not currently offering seat reservations with flexible tickets. Advances are counted place only.
 

HSP 2

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If they’re worried about capacity on a particular service they should substitute 2 5 car 222s in to take up the slack :)

That would please the people that went for the HST and also payed to do so.
 

robbeech

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EMR are not currently offering seat reservations with flexible tickets. Advances are counted place only.
My point was more generalised. But the same applies to counted place, I’d be disappointed to go to the trouble of booking a specific train, to find that o am not allowed to board for these sorts of reasons. Cancellations, disruption I appreciate isn’t always something that can be solved but to only apply any form of rules when it suits them is awfully “railway” isn’t it.
 

Bletchleyite

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My point was more generalised. But the same applies to counted place, I’d be disappointed to go to the trouble of booking a specific train, to find that o am not allowed to board for these sorts of reasons. Cancellations, disruption I appreciate isn’t always something that can be solved but to only apply any form of rules when it suits them is awfully “railway” isn’t it.

Really in this case they need to run a Class 222 relief just in front of the HST and make a load of cheap Advances available on it, and put out a warning including on the PIS that it will be busy. I'm sure I recall GWR did this for their last HST run.
 

robbeech

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That would please the people that went for the HST and also payed to do so.
As far as I’m aware, nobody has paid to go on the HST, they’ve paid to be transported between A and B. :)
 

OldNick

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If enthusiasts wanting to ride the last service of a specific traction type is such a problem that it will affect availability for 'normal' travelling customers, surely the answer is to run an additional final service as some sort of special?
 

Ianno87

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If enthusiasts wanting to ride the last service of a specific traction type is such a problem that it will affect availability for 'normal' travelling customers, surely the answer is to run an additional final service as some sort of special?

Or for enthusiasts to not be so obsessed about having to be on the last service. I made my "last" MML HST run in December.
 

cuccir

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People are free to be interested in what they're interested in - I mean it's not my cup of tea either but I can see why people would want to do that final journey, and be willing to pay for it too. It really is up to EMR to manage reservations and platform access in the way that would be done on any other busy service, surely?
 

Hadders

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Anyone in favour of compulsory reservations should've been at my local station yesterday afternoon. I popped in to purchase some tickets for a future journey, in front of my were two separate customers who had both missed their respective LNER trains, one to Doncaster the other to Leeds.

The excellent ticket clerk managed to find a workaround for the first customer. It involved changing at Peterborough as there were no seats available until Peterborough. The second customer was not do lucky - no seats available until 19:55 and then it'll cost £76 for a 1st class ticket as there are no standard class seats available. Cue much frustration (customer and clerk), tears etc. The customer decides not to travel (looked like she was going away for the weekend, suitcase etc)

The clerk told me this happens regularly. The reality of course is that there will probably be seats available due to no shows, or the passenger might have to stand for part of the journey.

There is a part of me says that the passengers missed the train due to their own fault so tough, but on reflection this is no way to run the a railway. Those customers won't use the train again. They could've been accommodated, albeit by standing for part of the way.

Us lot on here are savvy when it comes to train travel, we know workarounds and ways to make things happen. Joe public generally doesn't. We need to make travelling by train as simple as possible, not put loads of barriers in the way.
 

Ianno87

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Those customers won't use the train again.

Do you know that for certain? Did you ask them?

People also "don't use the train again" when they're standing packed into aisles and vestibules when "they've sold too many tickets".

Us lot on here are savvy when it comes to train travel, we know workarounds and ways to make things happen. Joe public generally doesn't. We need to make travelling by train as simple as possible, not put loads of barriers in the way.

Or for the booking systems to be a bit cleverer and release unused seats, or automatically find the workarounds for the passenger.

The reservation limitations for social distancing won't be helping at the moment.
 

181

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People also "don't use the train again" when they're standing packed into aisles and vestibules
We shouldn't let the convenience of rail travel be taken away at the behest of people who are too daft to realise that they'd be the ones left behind at the station if reservations were compulsory. Anyone who wants to wait until there's a less busy train, or make a reservation beforehand, is already free to do so; there's very little to be gained, and much to be lost, by forcing everyone to to that.
 

harz99

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Anyone in favour of compulsory reservations should've been at my local station yesterday afternoon. I popped in to purchase some tickets for a future journey, in front of my were two separate customers who had both missed their respective LNER trains, one to Doncaster the other to Leeds.

The excellent ticket clerk managed to find a workaround for the first customer. It involved changing at Peterborough as there were no seats available until Peterborough. The second customer was not do lucky - no seats available until 19:55 and then it'll cost £76 for a 1st class ticket as there are no standard class seats available. Cue much frustration (customer and clerk), tears etc. The customer decides not to travel (looked like she was going away for the weekend, suitcase etc)

The clerk told me this happens regularly. The reality of course is that there will probably be seats available due to no shows, or the passenger might have to stand for part of the journey.

There is a part of me says that the passengers missed the train due to their own fault so tough, but on reflection this is no way to run the a railway. Those customers won't use the train again. They could've been accommodated, albeit by standing for part of the way.

Us lot on here are savvy when it comes to train travel, we know workarounds and ways to make things happen. Joe public generally doesn't. We need to make travelling by train as simple as possible, not put loads of barriers in the way.
The reality of course is that there will have been plenty of seats on the desired LNER services due to the social distancing allocation of seats, which has recently been "tweeked" and now has certain airline seats on opposite sides of the aisle bookable for 2 people each side with the result that the persons on the aisle seats are sitting only about 12-18 inches apart from each other, yet 2 separate parties of 2 cannot be reserved on opposite sides of a table where they sit 3-4 feet apart!

Compare this though with my recent bank holiday journey on SWR (no reservations possible) from Waterloo to Weymouth on a single 5 car unit which was totally full and standing from Clapham Junction, and you have to ask why are the former InterCity routes even bothering with social distancing.
 

Mugby

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I'm curious to know how LNER police the compulsory reservations policy at the smaller stations such as Retford or Newark, is it not possible to buy a ticket without a reservation, even for one stop journeys, Newark to Grantham for example?

Similarly, how do they prevent passengers at Wakefield Westgate who have bought a ticket for Leeds from getting on an LNER train?
 

Scotrail314209

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Avanti West Coast recommend passengers to get reservations, but it isn’t policed much.

I do think LNER need to ditch compulsory reservations as in places they are the only operator between certain points.

But it also sounds like LNER won’t be happy until they’ve turned their services into an airline on wheels.
 

Hadders

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I'm curious to know how LNER police the compulsory reservations policy at the smaller stations such as Retford or Newark, is it not possible to buy a ticket without a reservation, even for one stop journeys, Newark to Grantham for example.

Similarly, how do they prevent passengers at Wakefield Westgate who have bought a ticket for Leeds from getting on an LNER train?
They can't police it at intermediate stations and this is one way where the concept falls down.
 

route101

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Avanti West Coast recommend passengers to get reservations, but it isn’t policed much.

I do think LNER need to ditch compulsory reservations as in places they are the only operator between certain points.

But it also sounds like LNER won’t be happy until they’ve turned their services into an airline on wheels.
I used LNER other week. Just went and sat in coach C, the unreserved coach.

Avanti, had a seat reservation from Glasgow but from Carlisle I just jumped on.
 

ic31420

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...

There is a part of me says that the passengers missed the train due to their own fault so tough, but on reflection this is no way to run the a railway. Those customers won't use the train again. They could've been accommodated, albeit by standing for part of t

Us lot on here are savvy when it comes to train travel, we know workarounds and ways to make things happen. Joe public generally doesn't. We need to make travelling by train as simple as possible, not put loads of barriers in the way.

I hate the idea of compulsory reservations.

The whole appeal of rail for me is the turn up and go nature. The ticketed reservation of air is a huge turn off for me. Chuck in to that the uncertainty of some operators being reservation only and some not being it's just not worth the risk.

I consider myself pretty savvy. But reservation only travel worries me, what of I'm unavoidably delayed, what happens then? Wasted ££ unable to travel?

What happens if I set of on a journey with a couple of changes and leg 2&3 is reservations only but leg 1 is delayed meaning I miss my leg 2 train?

What happens if I'm on a reserved day return and my outward train is delayed by one of the daily railway farces meaning the time at my destination is reduced and I don't have time to do whatever I'm going to do... Can I stay longer and get a later train I'm not booked on?

The list goes on.

For me ticketing is due a revolution.

There should be a massive simplification and a single national system.

Off peak day tickets (singles and returns)
Peak day tickets (singles and returns)
7 day advance (with optional reservations)
14 day advance (with optional reservations)
28 day advance (with optional reservations)

We can also deal with the revenue distribution and orcats raiding too.

Each ticket has a unique serial number and QR code. Grippers can then scan the tickets and then the system allocates revenue accordingly.
This will incentivise operators to grip tickets and to make sure their staff are not just newspaper reading campanologists.

Tickets scanned at barriers but not on trains could use the barrier time to inform the revenue distribution.

Trains could have scanners installed near doors and passengers encouraged to scan or touch in.

Any unclaimed revenue or those operators who choose not to grip gets put into orcats which they take their chance with and.donr moan.
 
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Falcon1200

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Travelling on LNER a week ago today, the Train Manager was checking not only tickets but reservations too ! The only time I have encountered this, on other TOCs where reservations are recommended, eg Avanti WC and XC, reservations have not been checked.
 

mmh

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Travelling on LNER a week ago today, the Train Manager was checking not only tickets but reservations too ! The only time I have encountered this, on other TOCs where reservations are recommended, eg Avanti WC and XC, reservations have not been checked.

This I believe is a cultural difference dating back to the early days of the post-BR railway. GNER guards were infamous for checking advance ticket reservations to the point of insisting passengers moved to their "correct" seat. Only they and their successors have behaved like this en-mass, no other TOC ever has.
 

route101

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This I believe is a cultural difference dating back to the early days of the post-BR railway. GNER guards were infamous for checking advance ticket reservations to the point of insisting passengers moved to their "correct" seat. Only they and their successors have behaved like this en-mass, no other TOC ever has.
Had that last year on LNER from Edinburgh. Guard was making sure you sat in your seat.

Only once on Avanti before Covid. The guard wasn't happy with advance ticket holders in Coach U not sitting in their allocated seat. No one actually moved though.
 

rg177

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I've found that seat reservation enforcement on LNER has tailed off since restrictions eased in March/April.

Over last summer, I'd witnessed multiple incidents of TMs being genuinely horrible to passengers not sat in allocated seats and insisting that they move.

The past couple of months, I've often ignored my allocated seat if it's easier to socially distance in another part of the train, particularly where passengers have been reserved in a cluster, leaving the rest of a carriage empty. Not a word from any TM.

Of course that doesn't stop the endless spiel of how you must sit in your allocated seats.
 

Bletchleyite

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This I believe is a cultural difference dating back to the early days of the post-BR railway. GNER guards were infamous for checking advance ticket reservations to the point of insisting passengers moved to their "correct" seat. Only they and their successors have behaved like this en-mass, no other TOC ever has.

Yes, true, there was a real contempt for Standard passengers on GNER, and even more so for holders of cheap tickets.
 

miklcct

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I hate the idea of compulsory reservations.

The whole appeal of rail for me is the turn up and go nature. The ticketed reservation of air is a huge turn off for me. Chuck in to that the uncertainty of some operators being reservation only and some not being it's just not worth the risk.

I consider myself pretty savvy. But reservation only travel worries me, what of I'm unavoidably delayed, what happens then? Wasted ££ unable to travel?

What happens if I set of on a journey with a couple of changes and leg 2&3 is reservations only but leg 1 is delayed meaning I miss my leg 2 train?

What happens if I'm on a reserved day return and my outward train is delayed by one of the daily railway farces meaning the time at my destination is reduced and I don't have time to do whatever I'm going to do... Can I stay longer and get a later train I'm not booked on?

The list goes on.

For me ticketing is due a revolution.

There should be a massive simplification and a single national system.

Off peak day tickets (singles and returns)
Peak day tickets (singles and returns)
7 day advance (with optional reservations)
14 day advance (with optional reservations)
28 day advance (with optional reservations)

We can also deal with the revenue distribution and orcats raiding too.

Each ticket has a unique serial number and QR code. Grippers can then scan the tickets and then the system allocates revenue accordingly.
This will incentivise operators to grip tickets and to make sure their staff are not just newspaper reading campanologists.

Tickets scanned at barriers but not on trains could use the barrier time to inform the revenue distribution.

Trains could have scanners installed near doors and passengers encouraged to scan or touch in.

Any unclaimed revenue or those operators who choose not to grip gets put into orcats which they take their chance with and.donr moan.
I also hate the idea of compulsory reservations and only tolerate it on safety grounds (such as on an aeroplane).

If I am ever refused on a train because I can't get a reservation even when I'm holding a flexible ticket, I'll avoid that route again if possible.
 

High Dyke

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I'm curious to know how LNER police the compulsory reservations policy at the smaller stations such as Retford or Newark, is it not possible to buy a ticket without a reservation, even for one stop journeys, Newark to Grantham for example?

Similarly, how do they prevent passengers at Wakefield Westgate who have bought a ticket for Leeds from getting on an LNER train?
I've travelled a few times on LNER recently, but always booked a reservation. However, to answer the question about short journeys (i.e. Grantham - Newark Northgate) I've just tried to buy online for tomorrow. The system wants me to reserve a seat, whether allocated or chosen myself.

1623701786044.png

My most recent journey saw me have a pointless reservation. Allocated to a coach that wasn't on the train due to a stock change.
 

thedbdiboy

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I hate the idea of compulsory reservations.

The whole appeal of rail for me is the turn up and go nature. The ticketed reservation of air is a huge turn off for me. Chuck in to that the uncertainty of some operators being reservation only and some not being it's just not worth the risk.

I consider myself pretty savvy. But reservation only travel worries me, what of I'm unavoidably delayed, what happens then? Wasted ££ unable to travel?

What happens if I set of on a journey with a couple of changes and leg 2&3 is reservations only but leg 1 is delayed meaning I miss my leg 2 train?

What happens if I'm on a reserved day return and my outward train is delayed by one of the daily railway farces meaning the time at my destination is reduced and I don't have time to do whatever I'm going to do... Can I stay longer and get a later train I'm not booked on?

The list goes on.

For me ticketing is due a revolution.

There should be a massive simplification and a single national system.

Off peak day tickets (singles and returns)
Peak day tickets (singles and returns)
7 day advance (with optional reservations)
14 day advance (with optional reservations)
28 day advance (with optional reservations)

We can also deal with the revenue distribution and orcats raiding too.

Each ticket has a unique serial number and QR code. Grippers can then scan the tickets and then the system allocates revenue accordingly.
This will incentivise operators to grip tickets and to make sure their staff are not just newspaper reading campanologists.

Tickets scanned at barriers but not on trains could use the barrier time to inform the revenue distribution.

Trains could have scanners installed near doors and passengers encouraged to scan or touch in.

Any unclaimed revenue or those operators who choose not to grip gets put into orcats which they take their chance with and.donr moan.
Revenue distribution ceased to be an issue when Williams-Shapps made clear that GBR would take revenue responsibility. So hopefully the whole ORCATS exercise can be replaced by using all sorts of data (gate, ticket, train loading etc) to understand who is using what services for planning purposes rather than moving money around. The Holy Grail of a simple ticketing system is easy to do from a theory point of view but has loads of real life challenges. Even 'peak' and 'off-peak' defy definition. I often recall people saying 'oh, just make before 0930 peak everywhere' but even before COVID that was pretty hopeless at recognising a Cornish rural route at 7am was rarely 'peak' and a Sunday afternoon Pendolino to Euston very often was peak in loading terms. Post-COVID, these definitions will be even more distorted.
As for any form of reservable ticket, the only way to offer value is to yield manage them. BR had 7 and 14 day advance Apex fares back in the 90s because there was nothing better, but these days it is much better to offer a single category of book-in-advance fare that varies in price right up to a few minutes before departure and is subject to availability. The political and stakeholder environment means that for practical purposes there is (rightly) an insistence on a walk-up railway, but the economics simply do not allow longer distance services to be walk up at the cheapest fares, and a lot of (ordinary, non-expert) travellers would be up in arms at losing the very cheapest fares simply because they were no longer reservable.
 

Bletchleyite

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As for any form of reservable ticket, the only way to offer value is to yield manage them. BR had 7 and 14 day advance Apex fares back in the 90s because there was nothing better, but these days it is much better to offer a single category of book-in-advance fare that varies in price right up to a few minutes before departure and is subject to availability. The political and stakeholder environment means that for practical purposes there is (rightly) an insistence on a walk-up railway, but the economics simply do not allow longer distance services to be walk up at the cheapest fares, and a lot of (ordinary, non-expert) travellers would be up in arms at losing the very cheapest fares simply because they were no longer reservable.

It's also worth noting that that doesn't necessarily mean "expensive". I took a "walk-up"* room at a Premier Inn last weekend as I was too tired for the drive home. It only cost £35, which I think is the lowest I've ever paid for one.

* OK, it wasn't quite walk-up, but sat in the car at the motorway services I used the app to find the cheapest nearby one, booked it, headed straight there and was in bed within the hour.
 

D6130

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Travelling on LNER a week ago today, the Train Manager was checking not only tickets but reservations too ! The only time I have encountered this, on other TOCs where reservations are recommended, eg Avanti WC and XC, reservations have not been checked.
Hmmm....I wonder whether that was a particular Newcastle-based Train Manager who will doubtless be familiar to many on here?
 
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