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Mandatory reservations, recommended reservations, meaningless reservations

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bengley

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Reservations are unenforceable if not displayed so this policy is a bit of a joke...
 
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WelshBluebird

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Had some fun with GWR and SWR yesterday. I think its because GWR are making their services compulsory reservable and then show them as "sold out" when they've sold x number of tickets for that service, whilst it doesn't look like SWR are doing the same. But that meant that yesterdays 13.04 SWR service from Bristol to Waterloo was full and standing by 12.55 with a lot of passengers just travelling to Bath Spa, but the 13.00 GWR service from Bristol to Paddington was pretty quiet. So even though we didn't have a reservation for the GWR service we made the decision to run over to the other platform and board that instead. Why on earth they couldn't have just made an announcement saying anyone for Bath Spa should use the GWR service as that has a lot more free space I have no idea, but that is almost besides the point as it was the reservation policy (specifically the GWR service showing as "sold out" when it had a load of free space) that cause the SWR service to be so full.
 

Falcon1200

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This "must have a reservation" really doesn't work when it's part of a longer journey. What if I do make a reservation but more it because my connecting train is delayed? What if I can't get a seat on the next service?

Which is what happened to me on my first LNER journey in March ! My Scotrail train into Glasgow was cancelled, meaning I missed my next Scotrail train to Edinburgh, and then the LNER service on which I had a reservation to Kings X. However...... even before departing my origin station I logged into LNER's website on my phone and reserved a seat on a later train from Edinburgh, the system knew that I had another seat reserved on the same day and asked if I wanted to cancel it, which I did. The process could not have been any easier. The only problem being that when I eventually got to Edinburgh my LNER train was a 5-car vice the booked 9-car, so my new reserved seat did not exist anyway ! Fortunately the train was quiet throughout.
 

trebor79

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Which is what happened to me on my first LNER journey in March ! My Scotrail train into Glasgow was cancelled, meaning I missed my next Scotrail train to Edinburgh, and then the LNER service on which I had a reservation to Kings X. However...... even before departing my origin station I logged into LNER's website on my phone and reserved a seat on a later train from Edinburgh, the system knew that I had another seat reserved on the same day and asked if I wanted to cancel it, which I did. The process could not have been any easier. The only problem being that when I eventually got to Edinburgh my LNER train was a 5-car vice the booked 9-car, so my new reserved seat did not exist anyway ! Fortunately the train was quiet throughout.
Just nonsensical though. Why should I be expected to have a charged up smartphone with me, in an area with signal and faff around with seat reservations because "the railway" has made me late? Sorry but I'm just not going to do that, especially if I've got lots of bags etc with me.
"The railway" will just have to accept that I don't have a reservation, through no fault of my own.
 

mmh

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Just nonsensical though. Why should I be expected to have a charged up smartphone with me, in an area with signal and faff around with seat reservations because "the railway" has made me late? Sorry but I'm just not going to do that, especially if I've got lots of bags etc with me.
"The railway" will just have to accept that I don't have a reservation, through no fault of my own.

Quite. I'd prefer to see people refusing to jump through these nonsensical hoops. Doing so will only encourage them to continue with them and introduce more.
 

Falcon1200

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Just nonsensical though. Why should I be expected to have a charged up smartphone with me, in an area with signal and faff around with seat reservations because "the railway" has made me late? Sorry but I'm just not going to do that, especially if I've got lots of bags etc with me.
"The railway" will just have to accept that I don't have a reservation, through no fault of my own.

Fair enough, although I wouldn't go so far as to say nonsensical; The process allowed me to be sure of getting on the train and (as I thought, albeit not in reality !) of having a reserved seat. A problem might arise if you are not allowed on the platform without a reservation, or there are no seats on the next train - Not maybe an issue yet, but might become one.
 

Bletchleyite

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Just nonsensical though. Why should I be expected to have a charged up smartphone with me, in an area with signal and faff around with seat reservations because "the railway" has made me late? Sorry but I'm just not going to do that, especially if I've got lots of bags etc with me.
"The railway" will just have to accept that I don't have a reservation, through no fault of my own.

The other way of looking at this is that with a properly implemented CR system rather than the present bodged mess is that the TOC could already know your connection would miss, and have notified you (if booked on your phone) or the guard on board and you'd be proactively advised of your new itinerary and reservations or that, if you were stuck, you had a taxi already arranged and where you could meet it.
 

Falcon1200

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The other way of looking at this is that with a properly implemented CR system rather than the present bodged mess is that the TOC could already know your connection would miss, and have notified you (if booked on your phone) or the guard on board and you'd be proactively advised of your new itinerary and reservations or that, if you were stuck, you had a taxi already arranged and where you could meet it.

Interesting, but LNER had no idea from where, or how, I was travelling to join their train ! (My connecting trains were non-reservable).
 

Bletchleyite

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Interesting, but LNER had no idea from where, or how, I was travelling to join their train ! (My connecting trains were non-reservable).

Indeed not - that's the "bodged system" I'm talking about - it was done quickly in response to COVID, not with a look at what benefits could be achieved from it. It'd also require a single national system (you'd obviously not have CR on your local branch line, but if the journey contained any CR trains you'd know where people were to be able to manage this sort of thing).

As it is it causes lots of issues.
 

trebor79

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The other way of looking at this is that with a properly implemented CR system rather than the present bodged mess is that the TOC could already know your connection would miss, and have notified you (if booked on your phone) or the guard on board and you'd be proactively advised of your new itinerary and reservations or that, if you were stuck, you had a taxi already arranged and where you could meet it.
Oooh, I think we're straying into too clever for it's own good territory here.
What if I can see there's disruption, so decide to take an earlier connecting train to make my booked LNER service. Then "the railway" helpfully cancels my seat reservation and puts me onto a later train instead? Not helpful. And I'd still need a smartphone etc to know it's done this.

Why can't I just rock up with a flexible ticket and accept that I might have to stand for a while if the train is full? You know, like I've been doing for 30 years?
 

Meerkat

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Why can't I just rock up with a flexible ticket and accept that I might have to stand for a while if the train is full? You know, like I've been doing for 30 years?
Because it’s not just about you. It’s also about the people who have paid for a nice train journey and want to be able to easily get to and from the doors/buffet/toilets, and don’t want someone‘s bum in their face!
 

Bletchleyite

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Because it’s not just about you. It’s also about the people who have paid for a nice train journey and want to be able to easily get to and from the doors/buffet/toilets, and don’t want someone‘s bum in their face!

But also about the majority of rail users, who are not experts and would probably like that sort of "handholding" to be offered to them.

The needs of the enthusiast are very often, if not "almost always", different from those of most of the rest of the punters. In some cases, like this, they are diametrically opposed, so the TOC should choose the larger group, which will be the non-enthusiast group.
 

Meerkat

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But also about the majority of rail users, who are not experts and would probably like that sort of "handholding" to be offered to them.

The needs of the enthusiast are very often, if not "almost always", different from those of most of the rest of the punters. In some cases, like this, they are diametrically opposed, so the TOC should choose the larger group, which will be the non-enthusiast group.
Not sure I am understanding your point. I am not referring to enthusiasts. I think the infrequent users are the most likely to want a set product and not have the stress of a train crowded with standees.
I would expect reservations to be easy and up until departure, via Internet, ticket machines and ticket offices.
I would also be happy with edge case standing reservations - where intercity is also the only short hop commute service , leaving a float for disruption - but at a comfortable quantity.
 

87electric

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A couple of weeks ago I joined an Azuma at Doncaster that was a York to London service. It was "full", but only in the respect that passengers were filling up the vestibules. No one would sit next to another passenger. It transpired that a failed Azuma at York had dumped its passengers onto this train that already had its fair share of capacity. All the train manager could do over the public address was apologize and offer passengers feeling uncomfortable to leave the service at the next station and catch the next service. The ticket would be valid.
At some point in the future when people return in droves to the rails then this whole reservation nonsense will fall down and disappear. Walk on fares and standing will return!
 

Bletchleyite

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Not sure I am understanding your point. I am not referring to enthusiasts. I think the infrequent users are the most likely to want a set product and not have the stress of a train crowded with standees.
I would expect reservations to be easy and up until departure, via Internet, ticket machines and ticket offices.
I would also be happy with edge case standing reservations - where intercity is also the only short hop commute service , leaving a float for disruption - but at a comfortable quantity.

I was agreeing with you. In essence, I was saying that compulsory reservations are more likely to be better for "normal" users, who these days are mostly using Advances anyway (provided there is decent disruption handling), and enthusiasts prefer full flexibility.
 

Meerkat

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I was agreeing with you. In essence, I was saying that compulsory reservations are more likely to be better for "normal" users, who these days are mostly using Advances anyway (provided there is decent disruption handling), and enthusiasts prefer full flexibility.
Ah, sweet.
Trouble for the railway is that many people are both at different times and will complain about which ever system has impacted that trip!
What the flexibility concept hides is lack of capacity - jamming ‘em in is much cheaper for the government than providing capacity…..
 

Domh245

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The other way of looking at this is that with a properly implemented CR system rather than the present bodged mess is that the TOC could already know your connection would miss, and have notified you (if booked on your phone) or the guard on board and you'd be proactively advised of your new itinerary and reservations or that, if you were stuck, you had a taxi already arranged and where you could meet it.

An idea that sounds great up until you get the email at 11:00 informing you that you've been rebooked onto the next available train at 20:19, completely torpedoing your plans for a day out. Or it rebooks you onto a later train, only for the originally delayed train to make up time and the connection be made but denied.

I still struggle to see the advantage of CR over the current system.
 

Meerkat

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An idea that sounds great up until you get the email at 11:00 informing you that you've been rebooked onto the next available train at 20:19, completely torpedoing your plans for a day out. Or it rebooks you onto a later train, only for the originally delayed train to make up time and the connection be made but denied.

I still struggle to see the advantage of CR over the current system.
I don’t believe he was suggesting the TOC rebooked your outward first leg - if they did that would be due to disruption and not really any different to you turning up at the station to find your train cancelled.
 

Domh245

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I don’t believe he was suggesting the TOC rebooked your outward first leg - if they did that would be due to disruption and not really any different to you turning up at the station to find your train cancelled.

I think I worded it poorly, in my hypothetical scenario you're on a delayed local train at 11:00 to connect onto an LNER service (at say, 11:19) when the email comes in.

My point is that it doesn't sound like a great idea at all when the TOC rebooks you because of the missed connection, and the first available train is not for several hours because all the other trains have been fully booked (or there's no suitable reservations available to your destination, etc). Where currently you'd get on the next train and just have to stand (or seat hop at each station), with CR you'd just be told tough luck (or allowed to board anyway - completely negating the point of CR)
 

Bletchleyite

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I think I worded it poorly, in my hypothetical scenario you're on a delayed local train at 11:00 to connect onto an LNER service (at say, 11:19) when the email comes in.

My point is that it doesn't sound like a great idea at all when the TOC rebooks you because of the missed connection, and the first available train is not for several hours because all the other trains have been fully booked (or there's no suitable reservations available to your destination, etc). Where currently you'd get on the next train and just have to stand (or seat hop at each station), with CR you'd just be told tough luck (or allowed to board anyway - completely negating the point of CR)

I wouldn't say that allowing CR to be ignored during serious disruption does invalidate the concept. Serious disruption is not that common. More likely is one cancellation and there being enough space on the next one or two trains to get everyone a new reservation.
 

DustyBin

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An idea that sounds great up until you get the email at 11:00 informing you that you've been rebooked onto the next available train at 20:19, completely torpedoing your plans for a day out. Or it rebooks you onto a later train, only for the originally delayed train to make up time and the connection be made but denied.

I still struggle to see the advantage of CR over the current system.

Last week I tried to book a day return three days before travelling and couldn’t as every return leg was sold out until something like 8pm. I ended up making a six hour round trip by car which wasn’t what I needed. The situation was down to a combination of covid and football fans travelling down to London but the situation was still ridiculous. I make a lot of shorter journeys on LNER as well so having to pre-book is a pain, I just want to turn up and go. I’ll stand in the vestibule if needs be, the same way I have for the last 15 years!
 

Bletchleyite

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Last week I tried to book a day return three days before travelling and couldn’t as every return leg was sold out until something like 8pm. I ended up making a six hour round trip by car which wasn’t what I needed. The situation was down to a combination of covid and football fans travelling down to London but the situation was still ridiculous. I make a lot of shorter journeys on LNER as well so having to pre-book is a pain, I just want to turn up and go. I’ll stand in the vestibule if needs be, the same way I have for the last 15 years!

The problem at the moment with LNER is that they are operating below capacity. Once every seat can be reserved, I suspect that issue won't be anywhere near as significant.
 

DustyBin

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The problem at the moment with LNER is that they are operating below capacity. Once every seat can be reserved, I suspect that issue won't be anywhere near as significant.

Hopefully not, although once at full capacity I’m not sure what the CR system will achieve, other than preventing overcrowding on the odd peak service?
 

87electric

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Also, there are no reservations on Mk4 sets. People might have a reservation/ticket for the xx:15 but if a Mk4 turns up (and their diagrams can be random) then the reservation is pointless because of the different seating from Azumas.
The train manager explains this on board as all the punters are very confused looking for their seats.
 

bramling

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Because it’s not just about you. It’s also about the people who have paid for a nice train journey and want to be able to easily get to and from the doors/buffet/toilets, and don’t want someone‘s bum in their face!

If you’ve paid for a nice train journey and there’s a bum in your face, it’s probably either due to disruption (a situation which compulsory reservations *won’t* solve), or because lots of other people also wanted to pay for a nice train journey in the same timings.
 

Domh245

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I wouldn't say that allowing CR to be ignored during serious disruption does invalidate the concept. Serious disruption is not that common. More likely is one cancellation and there being enough space on the next one or two trains to get everyone a new reservation.

It doesn't have to be serious disruption. If you were travelling during one of the peak long-distance travel days (beginning/ends of half terms, christmas, easter, bank holidays, etc), then you'd be lucky to have any spare seats on following services! At that point, you could then quite likely be faced with a multiple hour wait til another seat is available, especially if there's no disruption and it's just that the local train is late

Like you say, during normal times there's usually enough space for everyone - which raises the question of why we are introducing CR for everyone when most people have 'CR-by-stealth' on their advances, and those who value the flexibility have that as well?
 

Meerkat

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My point is that it doesn't sound like a great idea at all when the TOC rebooks you because of the missed connection, and the first available train is not for several hours because all the other trains have been fully booked (or there's no suitable reservations available to your destination, etc). Where currently you'd get on the next train and just have to stand (or seat hop at each station), with CR you'd just be told tough luck (or allowed to board anyway - completely negating the point of CR)
CR would help in disruption as you can be far surer that you could squeeze the disrupted onto a following train - as it would have left with no standees.

If you’ve paid for a nice train journey and there’s a bum in your face, it’s probably either due to disruption (a situation which compulsory reservations *won’t* solve), or because lots of other people also wanted to pay for a nice train journey in the same timings.
CR would sort of solve that - whoever got on the train would get what they paid for as opposed to none of them getting what they paid for.
There is a limit to how many people you squeeze on a train before people aren’t allowed onboard anyway, CR just reduces that limit until extra capacity is provided (which is the proper solution), and means potential passengers will know whether or not they will get on and won’t be left on the platform.
 

Dave91131

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A few posts in the last couple of hours have mentioned "a nice journey" and "bums in faces".

Irrespective of compulsory reservations, "a nice journey" or lack of "bums in faces" aren't what is paid for when a ticket is purchased, are they? I thought what was purchased is a contract to be conveyed from A to B...
 

Bletchleyite

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A few posts in the last couple of hours have mentioned "a nice journey".

Irrespective of compulsory reservations, "a nice journey" isn't what is paid for when a ticket is purchased, is it? I thought what was purchased is a contract to be conveyed from A to B...

If the railway doesn't consider quality of journey experience at all, it might as well give up, as it's likely the car will win out in those terms. For an InterCity journey, it has to be part of the offering. I'd agree that commuter type services are not so much about that.

I get that many enthusiasts are happy to make multi-hour journeys standing in a crammed-full train. Most non-enthusiasts are not.
 
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