Re-Introduction of "3rd Class"

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Clansman

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Prompted by a discussion on this thread, I thought it could do with it's own thread.

In the thread, a lot was discussed about the re-introduction of "3rd Class", which I think would be a possible idea in the future (not really a fan of it), but with a few changes:

I'd scrap the terminology of "3rd Class" for a start, a bit insulting in the modern day of age: a reminder of the mid 1900s. I think, instead of having a lower class than standard, why not bridge the gap between Standard, and First a bit? Something like a "Premium Class", as used on Eurostar, but slightly different. The same idea I had in the other thread as a reply to another user:

Personally I think First class and standard class are currently too similar. I would like to see an improvement to First class: bigger meals, seats, etc (though East coast is quite good). I'd also like to see a reintroduction of third class. Perhaps call it extra economy for those who don't like the term third class. This could be megatrain type tickets in a coach with just seats, no tables, no window alignment and little luggage space. Basically for people who just want to get from a to b cheaply.
Disagree with you there on a number of levels. Even the people who "just want to get from A to B" want a decent seat, a window, table and luggage space. People aren't even content with the current seating arrangements in some standard class trains, the Voyagers for example: with only 2 group tables in each coach, too many cramped airline style seats, and poor window alignment.

The "3rd class" idea wouldn't be popular under the conditions in which you stated: poor window to seat alignment, little luggage space, no tables etc. It would definitely decrease passenger satisfaction levels, no one would want to use it. It wouldn't generate revenue for TOC's as it would involve either cutting the cost of tickets ontop of the fact they would be running an extra carriage, or converting standard carriages. Why does the conditions of this "3rd class" have to be like you stated? In my opinion, the only reason a 3rd class was to be introduced would be to introduce an "in-between of standard and first." Definitely wouldn't use the terminology 3rd class, would be more of an insult to passengers, as it would clearly highlight a division between social classes like in the old BR days.

I'd have the format something like this: STANDARD-PREMIUM-FIRST. Standard class being the same as it is now. Premium being more about extra comfort and space, with a fixed and cheap upgrade scheme for both weekends and weekdays to make it more appealing and affordable, providing slightly bigger seats (not the same as First) and fixed tables at every seat (including airline ones) aligned with windows throughout, in 2+1 formation, but without complimentary service. A class something similar to First Class on the Voyagers (Would certainly generate more revenue and be more feasible able for TOC's). First Class would have even bigger seats, an at seat service, more legroom, bigger tables, curtains, cutlery/cups at tables. Basically the same First Class as used by Virgin Trains East Coast.

I heard something like this was used on the WCML, something along the lines of "Silver Standard"?
 
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gimmea50anyday

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Back in Intercity days on EC, WC and XC the coach nearest to the buffet was an enhanced standard class, this died out with privatisation tho.

VXC wanted a third class which is why all toilets are of the disability standard on a voyager, there had to be a universal toilet for every class. This idea wasnt pursued tho.
 

Mag_seven

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Whenever a TOC talks about introducing some sort of intermediate facility that is neither standard class or first class the media (mainly the tabloid press) always jump on it an talk about "the reintroduction of third class" as if the TOC was about to reintroduce carriages with no roofs on them.
 

Xenophon PCDGS

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Whenever a TOC talks about introducing some sort of intermediate facility that is neither standard class or first class the media (mainly the tabloid press) always jump on it an talk about "the reintroduction of third class" as if the TOC was about to reintroduce carriages with no roofs on them.

What do you expect of the tabloid press.....<(
 

aformeruser

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On some routes it's possible to get 3 different classes already despite only standard fares being available. Look at Calder Valley, for instance:

142s/150s - 3+2 seating
144s - 2+2 seating without tables or armrests
153s/155s/158s - 2+2 seating with tables and armrests
 

47802

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No fan of that idea at all, its frequently enough agro trying to get a seat as it is without more classes and trying to turn East Coast services into Virgin Atlantic.

I'm all for getting rid of 1st except on Intercity services although you could argue that those unfortunate enough to sit in the seats by the doors on the 800's with no armrests and Window will be travelling 3rd class anyway thanks to Hitachi's state of the art 'Sliding Doors'
 
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yorkie

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This has cropped up before, and I'll say again there area already 3 'classes' in all but name.

The likes of Virgin Trains, Virgin Trains East Coast, GWR etc have genuine 1st class with comfortable 1+2 seating.

Those TOCs also have reasonable accommodation in 2+2 seating layout, which is called "Standard Class". This is not really much different to the worst train operating companies' 1st Class, e.g. Govia Thameslink Railway (including, from tomorrow, on their so-called "premium" Gatwick Express route!) and Southeastern. If anything, the Standard class on many of the 'InterCity' TOCs is more often than not of a better quality than the dubiously named 1st Class of the commuter TOCs!

Then you have accommodation which is arguably not fit for purpose. I'm talking 2+3 seating, which is very rarely fully occupied, and when it is, overhanging into the corridor is inevitable making it hard to get through the train. This is 3rd class in all but name, but is called 'Standard Class' on the train companies who have the cheek to offer it.

So, already 3 broad quality levels, but just two names. Are there any trains that have 1+2, 2+2 and 2+3 seating? Probably not, and if there were, it would be tricky to actually refer to these as 3 different classes within the existing fares structure.

The media won't tolerate any attempt to move to 3 classes either.

It won't happen.
 

daodao

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This has cropped up before, and I'll say again there area already 3 'classes' in all but name.

The likes of Virgin Trains, Virgin Trains East Coast, GWR etc have genuine 1st class with comfortable 1+2 seating.

Those TOCs also have reasonable accommodation in 2+2 seating layout, which is called "Standard Class". This is not really much different to the worst train operating companies' 1st Class, e.g. Govia Thameslink Railway (including, from tomorrow, on their so-called "premium" Gatwick Express route!) and Southeastern. If anything, the Standard class on many of the 'InterCity' TOCs is more often than not of a better quality than the dubiously named 1st Class of the commuter TOCs!

Then you have accommodation which is arguably not fit for purpose. I'm talking 2+3 seating, which is very rarely fully occupied, and when it is, overhanging into the corridor is inevitable making it hard to get through the train. This is 3rd class in all but name, but is called 'Standard Class' on the train companies who have the cheek to offer it.

So, already 3 broad quality levels, but just two names. Are there any trains that have 1+2, 2+2 and 2+3 seating? Probably not, and if there were, it would be tricky to actually refer to these as 3 different classes within the existing fares structure.

The media won't tolerate any attempt to move to 3 classes either.

It won't happen.

I was not aware that commuter TOCs offered first class. Many TOCs (e.g. Northern, ATW) that provide local services don't even offer first class on most of their longer-distance routes. For example, only the GW IC route to London offers 1st class from Cardiff, apart from the solitary ATW business train to/from North Wales, the solitary XC train to Manchester via Birmingham and the trains to Birmingham via Chepstow (which didn't use to provide 1st class). Only TPE/XC/VT offer 1st class to/from Manchester.
 
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Clansman

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I was not aware that commuter TOCs offered first class. Many TOCs (e.g. Northern, ATW) that provide local services don't even offer first class on most of their longer-distance routes. For example, only the GW IC route to London offers 1st class from Cardiff, apart from the solitary ATW business train to/from North Wales. Only TPE/XC/VT offer 1st class to/from Manchester.

Think Yorkie's on about SR, SWT, GTR, AGA(321/360), GWR(165/166)
 

BestWestern

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I was not aware that commuter TOCs offered first class. Many TOCs (e.g. Northern, ATW) that provide local services don't even offer first class on most of their longer-distance routes. For example, only the GW IC route to London offers 1st class from Cardiff, apart from the solitary ATW business train to/from North Wales. Only TPE/XC/VT offer 1st class to/from Manchester.

It's more of a Southeast area thing. It tends to consist of a very small area (typically one end of a carriage between the driving cab and first set of doors), is often fitted with seats barely any different, if at all, to those in Standard, and the element of luxury that is offered is simply not having to wedge yourself into the scrum throughout the rest of the train during the peak hours. Whether that constitutes value for money is up to the individual, particularly considering that many of these trains are DOO operations with little guarantee of ticket checks and thus widespread abuse of the First Class facilities. An exception to this is South West Trains, who offer decent sized facilities with 2+1 seating, owing to the long distances some of their services cover. Even here though, there is nothing like the complimentary meals and drinks offered on some intercity TOCs.
 

yorkie

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I was not aware that commuter TOCs offered first class. Many TOCs (e.g. Northern, ATW) that provide local services don't even offer first class on most of their longer-distance routes. For example, only the GW IC route to London offers 1st class from Cardiff, apart from the solitary ATW business train to/from North Wales. Only TPE/XC/VT offer 1st class to/from Manchester.
Some do, notably in the SouthEast. Take a look at this (new trains for Govia Thameslink Railway's dubiously and hilariously named Gatwick "Express" route); the only difference is an antimacassar, and of course threats of prosecution (unlike the 'InterCity' TOCs, you generally can't upgrade on board).
 

daodao

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Some do, notably in the SouthEast. Take a look at this (new trains for Govia Thameslink Railway's dubiously and hilariously named Gatwick "Express" route); the only difference is an antimacassar, and of course threats of prosecution (unlike the 'InterCity' TOCs, you generally can't upgrade on board).

Thanks for your reply.

When I lived in Pimlico in the late 1970s, I used local trains from Vauxhall regularly to travel on the ex-LSW lines to Barnes, Putney and Norbiton for student work-training placements and to college sports venues near Chiswick and Cobham. I do not recall 1st class being provided on these trains.
 
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yorkie

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Thanks for your reply.

When I lived in Pimlico in the late 1970s, I used local trains from Vauxhall regularly to travel on the ex-LSW lines to Putney and Norbiton for student work-training placements and to college sports venues near Chiswick and Cobham. I do not recall 1st class being provided on these trains.
Most of the trains calling at Vauxhall do not convey 1st class accommodation.

But if someone was to board 1st class on one that does (e.g. 0509, 1609, 1639. 1739, 1839 or 1909 departures towards Reading) they would be liable for prosecution.

In contrast, a train that does not convey 1st class accommodation is considered to be entirely Standard and passengers may sit in any open part of the train, including any that is declassified 1st class.
 

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My worst experience of "First Class" was Gatwick Express with rather elderly stock looking well used and tatty inside and no power socket. Seemed just like a Standard Class carriage but with those white cloth things draped over the headrest.
 

kevconnor

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Until the new Northern Franchised was agreed I would have strongly argued that DaFT surreptitiously pursued a policy of third class travel in Northernland with the continued use of Newton Heath's finest.

In theory, as has been noted, only two real possibilities really exist a middle halfway somewhere between standard and first class, which may work on longer distance services such as XC, WCML & ECML. The alternative would be something like a tube stock on short distance commuter route where it is designed for predominantly standing. I am sure even when suggesting this there are however a 1001 reason why not, including safety, design, dynamics of actually enforcing such class & the politics of even having such class of travel.
 

BestWestern

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My worst experience of "First Class" was Gatwick Express with rather elderly stock looking well used and tatty inside and no power socket. Seemed just like a Standard Class carriage but with those white cloth things draped over the headrest.

442 or the old MK2 coaching stock?
 

DynamicSpirit

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This has cropped up before, and I'll say again there area already 3 'classes' in all but name.

The likes of Virgin Trains, Virgin Trains East Coast, GWR etc have genuine 1st class with comfortable 1+2 seating.

Those TOCs also have reasonable accommodation in 2+2 seating layout, which is called "Standard Class". This is not really much different to the worst train operating companies' 1st Class, e.g. Govia Thameslink Railway (including, from tomorrow, on their so-called "premium" Gatwick Express route!) and Southeastern. If anything, the Standard class on many of the 'InterCity' TOCs is more often than not of a better quality than the dubiously named 1st Class of the commuter TOCs!

Then you have accommodation which is arguably not fit for purpose. I'm talking 2+3 seating, which is very rarely fully occupied, and when it is, overhanging into the corridor is inevitable making it hard to get through the train. This is 3rd class in all but name, but is called 'Standard Class' on the train companies who have the cheek to offer it.

If you pursue that logic, I'd argue there are actually 4 classes - the 4th class being provided by London Overground, where only longitudinal seats are provided, and there is therefore clearly no intention of providing reasonable comfort on journeys (other than for the minority who like sitting longitudinally) ;)

(Obviously, there is also the issue of overcrowding on many trains, which will lower people's comfort levels below what can in principle be provided by the accommodation in a carriage).
 

davetheguard

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Back in Intercity days on EC, WC and XC the coach nearest to the buffet was an enhanced standard class, this died out with privatisation tho.

VXC wanted a third class which is why all toilets are of the disability standard on a voyager, there had to be a universal toilet for every class. This idea wasnt pursued tho.

I'd forgotten about this "enhanced standard class" you mention.

Silver Standard I think it was called, and I think the idea was that you had to have what we would now call an "Anytime" ticket to travel in it. They would of been as rare as hen's teeth on Cross Country routes of the time I'd have thought, as on many flows (e.g. Reading to Birmingham) reduced price tickets were valid on ALL trains.
 

222ben

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I think we should stay with 2 classes as a cross-EU streamlining of services on trains. And do away with Premium Economy on planes.
 

Polarbear

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Three classes can be done-OBB offer three classes on their Railjet trains as do Italo on their high speed services. The trick is to offer a "premium" class over and above the current 1st class offer.

The way I'd set it up would be to have say a max of 1 coach as full first class. 2+1 seats with full at seat catering on weekdays. Business Class would be 2+2 seating in bays of 4 (preferably lining up with windows) with a service of tea/coffee & nibbles. Standard class as it is now.

The problem is (as I alluded to on the other thread) the possibility of abstraction of full first class revenue to the TOC's). I'm sure it could be worked out if the industry had the will, but I suspect there are too many vested interests that would prevent the sort of innovative thinking from ever taking root in this country.
 

222ben

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Three classes can be done-OBB offer three classes on their Railjet trains as do Italo on their high speed services. The trick is to offer a "premium" class over and above the current 1st class offer.

The way I'd set it up would be to have say a max of 1 coach as full first class. 2+1 seats with full at seat catering on weekdays. Business Class would be 2+2 seating in bays of 4 (preferably lining up with windows) with a service of tea/coffee & nibbles. Standard class as it is now.

The problem is (as I alluded to on the other thread) the possibility of abstraction of full first class revenue to the TOC's). I'm sure it could be worked out if the industry had the will, but I suspect there are too many vested interests that would prevent the sort of innovative thinking from ever taking root in this country.
It's not innovative. It's a step back.
 

Polarbear

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It's not innovative. It's a step back.

If standard class remains as it is now, how can it be a step back? Long distance airlines have three classes & market them according to the needs of the customer, as do OBB & Italo. The national operator in Italy has 4 classes on its high speed trains (though I think that's taking it too far).
 
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coppercapped

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I think we should stay with 2 classes as a cross-EU streamlining of services on trains. And do away with Premium Economy on planes.

If you've ever spent 4 hours sitting in an airline 'Economy' seat, you will know why 'Premium Economy' exists...
 

222ben

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If you've ever spent 4 hours sitting in an airline 'Economy' seat, you will know why 'Premium Economy' exists...
abandon Economy, lower Premium Economy fares to that of Economy and rename it that. Hey presto, you have an instant "we increased comfort for our passengers" moment. Huzzah for Midland Railway thinking
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
If standard class remains as it is now, how can it be a step back? Long distance airlines have three classes & market them according to the needs of the customer, as do OBB & Italo. The national operator in Italy has 4 classes on its high speed trains (though I think that's taking it too far).

I meant that we've only had two classes in GB since the 1930s on all trains, why charge people the slightly higher fare for not much increase? that's capitalism for you. Yay, everyone likes capitalism!
 
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coppercapped

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abandon Economy, lower Premium Economy fares to that of Economy and rename it that. Hey presto, you have an instant "we increased comfort for our passengers" moment. Huzzah for Midland Railway thinking

Capitalism or not, you obviously have a very woolly understanding of the economics of air transport.

Unless you were trying to be funny...:(
 

222ben

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Bingo! Why do you think I said "yay! everyone loves capitalism!" in my post?
 

greaterwest

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I was not aware that commuter TOCs offered first class. Many TOCs (e.g. Northern, ATW) that provide local services don't even offer first class on most of their longer-distance routes. For example, only the GW IC route to London offers 1st class from Cardiff, apart from the solitary ATW business train to/from North Wales, the solitary XC train to Manchester via Birmingham and the trains to Birmingham via Chepstow (which didn't use to provide 1st class). Only TPE/XC/VT offer 1st class to/from Manchester.

I'd consider ATW's seats (especially those a la class 158) are incredibly comfortable, having done a journey from Birmingham to Llandudno Junction on one, it was a very pleasant journey indeed.
 

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So, already 3 broad quality levels, but just two names. Are there any trains that have 1+2, 2+2 and 2+3 seating? Probably not, and if there were, it would be tricky to actually refer to these as 3 different classes within the existing fares structure.

Virgin proposed to do this on the Voyagers originally, it was to be called "Virgin Value class". I believe it was abandoned as they were too narrow for it to fit properly.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
Three classes can be done-OBB offer three classes on their Railjet trains as do Italo on their high speed services. The trick is to offer a "premium" class over and above the current 1st class offer.

I'm unconvinced by that approach in the UK - fewer and fewer businesses are allowing First Class travel, let alone a premium option. It might work on VWC London-Manchester but not a lot else.

OTOH, a "silver standard" combining 2+2 seating at First Class spacing (think Voyager hybrid coach or Grand Central HST) with possibly leather seats and limited free refreshments (tea/coffee/water and biccies) could well work.
 
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