Modern Railways: LNER and compulsory reservations

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Bletchleyite

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There is an article in MR this month in which David Horne as good as says that LNER is likely to keep compulsory reservations permanently. It doesn’t quite say it directly, but rather something like “compulsory reservations will be a part of LNER’s future”, and also alludes to a possibility of Avanti and XC doing the same.

Of course this has upsides and downsides. However I do have a big concern about something else he said, namely, paraphrased, that it would avoid overcrowding by pushing people onto other trains. This seems to me that they’d be more interested in hiding where necessary capacity isn’t provided rather than providing it. This would be an even greater issue with XC, and in disruption.

Does anyone have any thoughts (or even inside insights) into this?
 
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I think it’s a silly idea. When COVID is over, I would much rather jump on the first service to Peterborough and stand if necessary or upgrade to first class than have to book a train and work around that, even if it does guarantee me a seat. Some others do not want to stand and can therefore choose to reserve. It’s personal choice and convenience.
 

37424

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There is an article in MR this month in which David Horne as good as says that LNER is likely to keep compulsory reservations permanently. It doesn’t quite say it directly, but rather something like “compulsory reservations will be a part of LNER’s future”, and also alludes to a possibility of Avanti and XC doing the same.

Of course this has upsides and downsides. However I do have a big concern about something else he said, namely, paraphrased, that it would avoid overcrowding by pushing people onto other trains. This seems to me that they’d be more interested in hiding where necessary capacity isn’t provided rather than providing it. This would be an even greater issue with XC, and in disruption.

Does anyone have any thoughts (or even inside insights) into this?
Yeh I was suspicious of this when they announced it for covid, but to me its unacceptable in the long term and while I wouldn't go as far as saying I wouldn't use the train at all because of this I would be inclined to use the car more, especially for last minute journeys.

Obviously you get this in Europe and I find it to be a pain in the backside quite frankly.

Hopefully once covid is sorted, do we really need to have to make a reservation to travel from Sheffield to Derby to me that's nonsense especially when the local service is provided by Intercity Services, and where there is local alternate service it will likely push more onto the local service.

I wouldn't be surprised to see it partial compulsory so London to Leeds Yes, but Doncaster to Leeds advised but not compulsory.
 
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gaillark

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I would be AGAINST compulsory reservations. Goes completly against a walk up railway. Prefer them to chnage status to "reservations recommended".
Got a feeling that they want to do away with any walk up ticket and have advance purchase only.
Won't use the railway at all if they make it compulsory. Will use the car only.
 

Robertj21a

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I'm a borderline rail traveller anyway (often too expensive). If this becomes standard practice I'll just do like others and use the car more.
 

D6130

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There is an article in MR this month in which David Horne as good as says that LNER is likely to keep compulsory reservations permanently. It doesn’t quite say it directly, but rather something like “compulsory reservations will be a part of LNER’s future”, and also alludes to a possibility of Avanti and XC doing the same.

Of course this has upsides and downsides. However I do have a big concern about something else he said, namely, paraphrased, that it would avoid overcrowding by pushing people onto other trains. This seems to me that they’d be more interested in hiding where necessary capacity isn’t provided rather than providing it. This would be an even greater issue with XC, and in disruption.

Does anyone have any thoughts (or even inside insights) into this?
I find it rather strange that different companies have widely different methods of coping with on-train social distancing. LNER have made seat reservations compulsory, whereas - across the road at St Pancras - EMR have scrapped reservations all together, resulting in a potential free-for-all. GWR have also made reservations compulsory on their Inter-City services, but are only reserving window seats -which is very sensible for the health and safety of their train managers, but makes life difficult for married or co-habiting couples who are travelling together. I haven't travelled with Avanti or Cross-Country since the start of the first lockdown, so I don't have first-hand experience of their arrangements. Surely it would have been better for all companies to have been instucted by the DfT, after perhaps consulting the Department for Health, to operate a unified national policy?
 

DB

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I would be AGAINST compulsory reservations. Goes completly against a walk up railway. Prefer them to chnage status to "reservations recommended".

Quite. If you want to be sure of a seat, get a reservation. If you don't get one and it's a busy train, you may need to stand. It's worked up until now!

For some journeys, such as Doncaster-York where LNER is the main operator (one XC train per hour normally) this would pretty much make the train unviable as an option. That's a journey I do sometimes, and rarely know what time I will be returning.

I guess they are hoping that the return to using trains will be sufficiently gradual that they can ignore the pushback as it will be over a longer time period than if they'd tried it at any other time. Hopefully they won't succeed!
 

Scotrail314209

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Oh dear. This wouldn't be too great a move on LNER's part. By doing compulsory reservations they could easily wave goodbye to those who use their services to London from Peterborough and Stevenage. If they were to go compulsory reservation it would just push people onto Great Northern.

The same would also happen to the commuters who use LNER between Dundee and Edinburgh, as well as intermediate stations who would move to the Scotrail services.
 

D6130

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Oh dear. This wouldn't be too great a move on LNER's part. By doing compulsory reservations they could easily wave goodbye to those who use their services to London from Peterborough and Stevenage. If they were to go compulsory reservation it would just push people onto Great Northern.

The same would also happen to the commuters who use LNER between Dundee and Edinburgh, as well as intermediate stations who would move to the Scotrail services.
Maybe this is exactly what they are trying to achieve!
 

DB

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Of course this has upsides and downsides. However I do have a big concern about something else he said, namely, paraphrased, that it would avoid overcrowding by pushing people onto other trains. This seems to me that they’d be more interested in hiding where necessary capacity isn’t provided rather than providing it. This would be an even greater issue with XC, and in disruption.

I wouldn't have said it has any real up-sides - if people want to be fairly sure of a seat, they can get a reservation. Otherwise they can take a chance.

It also assumes that passengers are all people who are planning in advance and have no time pressures - and that basically means leisure travellers. It largely ignores both business travellers who have to be somewhere for a certain time (and want to get back afterwards, not hang around for hours), and short-distance travellers who expect to be able to get on the next train which arrives.
 

JonathanH

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We should note that RDG are still pushing hard for fares reform and the notion of advance purchase with reservations for long distance travel and pay as you go for shorter distance travel would seem to be the kind of simplification that actually wouldn't go down that badly with people who live in London, who probably think this way anyway. I could see compulsory reservation for long-distance travel at the London end on LNER, Avanti, EMR and GWR HSS. Not so sure how it would work on XC.

Not so sure how it would work in other parts of the country, once the long-distance trains start to provide the short distance connections and capacity.
 

Deafdoggie

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I can't see it becoming policy. The railways will need all the customers they can get & putting people off travelling won't help them.
 

DB

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Not so sure how it would work in other parts of the country, once the long-distance trains start to provide the short distance connections and capacity.

XC does that on much of its route - e.g. it's the only direct service between York and Sheffield (other than a Northern stopper which goes via the world and takes forever). Many similar examples elsewhere.

Less so with LNER and Avanti, but does happen - on the ECML, it's the main or only operator for local services between Grantham and York, for example, and a fair proportion of the services between stations on the northern WCML are Avanti.
 

bramling

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I would be AGAINST compulsory reservations. Goes completly against a walk up railway. Prefer them to chnage status to "reservations recommended".
Got a feeling that they want to do away with any walk up ticket and have advance purchase only.
Won't use the railway at all if they make it compulsory. Will use the car only.

Same for me. Compulsory reservations would be the absolute end of any long-distance rail travel for me.
 

Scotrail314209

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Maybe this is exactly what they are trying to achieve!

Edinburgh - Berwick is another one that would raise issue, XC don't call all of their services there, but LNER call 1tph there. It's a cheap ticket and only 40 minutes journeywise, who'd bother reserving?
 

Ianno87

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Same for me. Compulsory reservations would be the absolute end of any long-distance rail travel for me.

Don't see why it needs to be a problem per sé, provided that last minute passengers can easily be accommodated. i.e. just whack up the App on your phone 5 minutes before the train is due.
 

Dave91131

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I can see numerous issues with this.

Say a season ticket holder has made a reservation on the 1730 ex King's Cross. They unexpectedly finish work early at say 1300. If all services are fully reserved until the 1730 departure, are they expected to wait for the 1730 train thereby being effectively forbidden from travelling home early?

How would this policy work for people whose work start and finish times vary day to day? At present (sorry, pre-Covid) they can board any LNER service (assuming they don't have a train-specific or time-restricted ticket), accepting that a seat is not guaranteed. Say a meeting drags on and on until 1900, and all subsequent services until the end of service are fully reserved. How would they get home?

How about rover tickets, many of which claim to give "hop on, hop off" flexibility?

What about passengers who don't possess a "fancy phone"? Would LNER have to ensure every travel centre at every station they serve is manned until the last of their services has departed every day?

Absolute codswallop in my opinion.
 

bramling

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Don't see why it needs to be a problem per sé, provided that last minute passengers can easily be accommodated. i.e. just whack up the App on your phone 5 minutes before the train is due.

I like freedom when travelling, and immensely dislike being tied down. Hence car will win the day.
 

PeterC

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I remember doing this on the TGV when touring in France with a rover ticket nearly 40 years ago. Walk up to machine, select departure, pay reservation fee, take reservation/boarding card, job done.

Of course British exceptionalism means that we can't do anything that simple.
 

bramling

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I remember doing this on the TGV when touring in France with a rover ticket nearly 40 years ago. Walk up to machine, select departure, pay reservation fee, take reservation/boarding card, job done.

Of course British exceptionalism means that we can't do anything that simple.

Nothing is more simple than going to a booking office and asking for a single or return to wherever, then boarding any train which fits the bill.
 

Ianno87

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I can see numerous issues with this.

Say a season ticket holder has made a reservation on the 1730 ex King's Cross. They unexpectedly finish work early at say 1300. If all services are fully reserved until the 1730 departure, are they expected to wait for the 1730 train thereby being effectively forbidden from travelling home early?

How would this policy work for people whose work start and finish times vary day to day? At present they can board any LNER service (assuming they don't have a train-specific or time-restricted ticket), accepting that a seat is not guaranteed. Say a meeting drags on and on until 1900, and all subsequent services until the end of service are fully reserved. How would they get home?

How about rover tickets, many of which claim to give "hop on, hop off" flexibility?

What about passengers who don't possess a "fancy phone"? Would LNER have to ensure every travel centre at every station they serve is manned until the last of their services has departed every day?

Absolute codswallop in my opinion.

It's dead easy to make a reservation at up to 5 minutes notice via the LNER website on a smart phone.

And 99.9999% of passengers who are haulage-bashing or travelling spontaneously will be competent with using a smartphone. It's increasingly a non-issue.

Nothing is more simple than going to a booking office and asking for a single or return to wherever, then boarding any train which fits the bill.

Which is usually the next available train anyway, once you're at the station. So you might as well get a reservation at the same time.

I like freedom when travelling, and immensely dislike being tied down. Hence car will win the day.

Even if you can pop on a website (on phone) and change your booked train freely with about 30 seconds effort?
 

185143

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It'll last until the Daily Mail get hold of a story where someone holding a several hundred pound walk up London-Edinburgh ticket is kicked off a train as they haven't got a reservation.

And, frankly, LNER would get all the criticism they'd deserve.
 

Robertj21a

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It's dead easy to make a reservation at up to 5 minutes notice via the LNER website on a smart phone.

And 99.9999% of passengers who are haulage-bashing or travelling spontaneously will be competent with using a smartphone. It's increasingly a non-issue.



Which is usually the next available train anyway, once you're at the station. So you might as well get a reservation at the same time.



Even if you can pop on a website (on phone) and change your booked train freely with about 30 seconds effort?
So, you're only thinking of train spotters etc, not the basic travellers?
 

37424

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It's dead easy to make a reservation at up to 5 minutes notice via the LNER website on a smart phone.

And 99.9999% of passengers who are haulage-bashing or travelling spontaneously will be competent with using a smartphone. It's increasingly a non-issue.



Which is usually the next available train anyway, once you're at the station. So you might as well get a reservation at the same time.



Even if you can pop on a website (on phone) and change your booked train freely with about 30 seconds effort?
Its a non issue if the train you want isn't full, and you have a smart phone and are adept at using it.
 

Ianno87

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Couldn't agree more. If it ain't broke, don't try to fix it!

Perhaps it is broken, given LNER complaints about packed trains on Maundy Thursdays and Sunday Evenings must be noteworthy? This is LNER's solution.

So, you're only thinking of train spotters etc, not the basic travellers?

Yes. I bet the vast majority of LNER's real passengers will not find this the slightest inconvenience whatsoever, in an increasingly smartphone and e-ticket driven world. The railway needs to innovate exactly like this to meet what passengers increasingly come to expect - a ticket with a guaranteed seat.

Its a non issue if the train you want isn't full, and you have a smart phone and are adept at using it.

Which, 99% of the time, will be a non-issue.
 

LowLevel

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Personally as someone who works as a guard on local trains that feed into LNER I have an account on their website and if I sell someone a ticket and they need to use LNER, I offer to book their reservation for them. It takes moments and if trains are fully reserved a quiet word with the platform staff on arrival usually sorts things out.

However I don't like the idea that trains could just be totally booked out on busy days - that would be a nightmare to manage.
 

Dave91131

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Yes. I bet the vast majority of LNER's real passengers will not find this the slightest inconvenience whatsoever, in an increasingly smartphone and e-ticket driven world. The railway needs to innovate exactly like this to meet what passengers increasingly come to expect - a ticket with a guaranteed seat.

On that point - can LNER, with the rolling stock they have and the timetable they operate, provide this?

E.g can they provide seats for every passenger travelling on a Sunday evening? If the answer is no, and some passengers are left with a choice of travel at a different time / on a different day or travel by alternative means, how many passengers will LNER lose?

Note this is a genuine question, not an argumentative come-back..
 

Ianno87

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However I don't like the idea that trains could just be totally booked out on busy days - that would be a nightmare to manage.

Already is a nightmare, when more people turn up at King's Cross on busy days than can physically fit on the train.

On that point - can LNER, with the rolling stock they have and the timetable they operate, provide this?

E.g can they provide seats for every passenger travelling on a Sunday evening? If the answer is no, and some passengers are left with a choice of travel at a different time / on a different day or travel by alternative means, how many passengers will LNER lose?

Note this is a genuine question, not an argumentative come-back..

I bet if you averaged it out, there is more than enough capacity across (say) a Sunday evening for everybody that wants to travel. It's just that the current ticketing set up means some trains at the "ideal" time oversubscribed with others running with plenty of free seats.
 
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