Standing on long rail journeys to be banned under Virgin Trains plan for airline-style fare

BigCj34

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At Stansted, You be turfed out and direct to the airport Hotel. I have landed late at Stansted missing the last train to March (Before 9pm). More or less everything is closed and you are rushed to the exit.

https://qz.com/quartzy/1313548/sleeping-in-airports-london-stansted-cracks-down-on-the-practice/

https://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/975144/Stansted-Airport-flights-sleeping-passengers-guard-patrols
Done that as a student, flew from Glasgow the night before for a connecting flight at 7am. Didn't really fancy spending a night in a hotel to get up at 4am!
 
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snookertam

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Haven't read the full thread, but if VT or any TOC think they can do this then it's outrageous.

Basically an excuse to push prices up when the seats are all nearly fully booked, as the threat of not getting to travel at all will loom large. A train is not a plane, so there is no safety reason for forcing everyone to have a seat unless the train is overcrowded.
 

RT4038

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Haven't read the full thread, but if VT or any TOC think they can do this then it's outrageous.

Basically an excuse to push prices up when the seats are all nearly fully booked, as the threat of not getting to travel at all will loom large. A train is not a plane, so there is no safety reason for forcing everyone to have a seat unless the train is overcrowded.

Or a genuine contribution to the debate about peak time overcrowding of long distance trains - the current practice of selling unlimited tickets (in the airline industry this would be called overbooking) for travel and thereby generating huge quantities of complaints about poor travelling experience?
 

dk1

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Or a genuine contribution to the debate about peak time overcrowding of long distance trains - the current practice of selling unlimited tickets (in the airline industry this would be called overbooking) for travel and thereby generating huge quantities of complaints about poor travelling experience?
If there I see one thing that grinds my gears from passengers it's the word 'overbooking' when it comes to railways. So airline, so American, so <D
 

Hadders

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Or a genuine contribution to the debate about peak time overcrowding of long distance trains - the current practice of selling unlimited tickets (in the airline industry this would be called overbooking) for travel and thereby generating huge quantities of complaints about poor travelling experience?
The railway doesn’t overbook trains. The number of seat reservations issued is never in excess of the number of seats on the train.

The problem is that it is possible to purchase a flexible ticket allowing travel on any train. This is a massive benefit of rail travel giving flexibility to passengers. It can, of course, lead to over crowding on certain popular trains and at times of disruption.

You could introduce compulsory reservations but this would cause all sorts of unintended consequences. Even a half way house of saying compulsory reservations on inter-city trains would cause problems as in many places the inter-city service is also the local service.

On balance my view is that the current system is probably best.
 

AM9

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If there I see one thing that grinds my gears from passengers it's the word 'overbooking' when it comes to railways. So airline, so American, so <D
Was 'drivel' the word you were looking for? Apart from their maximum safe load of passengers limit that trains have been designed for, which with suspension systems that estimate the load that they are carrying might be used to prevent a genuine overload from departing, trains are able to safely accommodate far more than the number of seats there are.
It's understandable that a TOC would try to maximise it's profits by playing on the overcrowding thing, but genuine members of the public (i.e. those who have no undeclared interest in TOC profits) who support this proposal are probably among those who regularly get the seat of their choice and don't need, or want, to be flexible with their travel arrangements. It would seem that the sight of standees offends their privileged eyes.
 

Taunton

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The railway doesn’t overbook trains..
Actually they do. The take Advance reservations well in excess of what seats are known to be typically available after those taken by normal walk-up (higher paying) passengers. Some TOCs will reserve virtually the whole train and then happily sell walk-up fares at the departure point.

It's ironic that some TOCs are wanting to limit passengers to avoid standees, while others are ripping seats out of current commuter units to provide GREATER standing room. And those taking the latter approach then just look at the now larger overall capacity without reference to whether it's seats or standing, and cut the consists down from 8-car to 6-car.
 

Hadders

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Actually they do. The take Advance reservations well in excess of what seats are known to be typically available after those taken by normal walk-up (higher paying) passengers. Some TOCs will reserve virtually the whole train and then happily sell walk-up fares at the departure point.

It's ironic that some TOCs are wanting to limit passengers to avoid standees, while others are ripping seats out of current commuter units to provide GREATER standing room. And those taking the latter approach then just look at the now larger overall capacity without reference to whether it's seats or standing, and cut the consists down from 8-car to 6-car.
The number of seat reservations issued does not exceed the number of seats on the train.

One caveat to this is counted place reservations for some Advance tickets on a limited number of train companies.
 

NSEFAN

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Actually they do. The take Advance reservations well in excess of what seats are known to be typically available after those taken by normal walk-up (higher paying) passengers. Some TOCs will reserve virtually the whole train and then happily sell walk-up fares at the departure point.
That's not overbooking. Overbooking is where seats get double booked on purpose in the hope that some passengers don't turn up, a common practice in the airline industry. By their very definition, you can't know exactly how many passengers on flexible fares will turn up without a compulsory reservation approach.
 

Meerkat

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Standing on commuter services is not the same as standing on inter city services.
Shorter duration, doors open more often, far less luggage, far more organised and understanding (possibly defeated is a better word!) passengers, fewer kids and old folk.
Long distance services should be reservation only, even if that includes a sensible number of short standing reservations for commuters .
 

F Great Eastern

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Long distance services should be reservation only, even if that includes a sensible number of short standing reservations for commuters .
So you would be willing to pay the increased ticket prices in order to allow this to happen to make up the revenue shortfall the operators experience from essentially turning significant numbers of business passengers away who go back to the private car?
 

Mogster

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I don’t see how this would work without massively reduced passenger numbers or increased frequency/capacity.

I occasionally go from Wigan to Birmingham for work. I can book a specific train in the morning but never know exactly when things will wrap up in the afternoon. The peak evening services are mostly oversubscribed with people standing. What are all those people supposed to do when all the seats are taken? Wait for a couple of hours till there’s a seat available?

For HS2 as a long distance only service with WCML as an alternate maybe it could work, not with the WCML as it is now though. Sometimes I wonder if the people suggesting these changes actually use the railway at busy times.
 

Taunton

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Overbooking is where seats get double booked on purpose in the hope that some passengers don't turn up.
Overbooking styles differ between modes, as they have different characteristics. If I know that normally 200-250 passengers turn up for a service with 300 seats, and I sell 150 Advances as well, that's the same thing. It's even less competent that the airline version, where they know that normally in fact it does work out.
 

Meerkat

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So you would be willing to pay the increased ticket prices in order to allow this to happen to make up the revenue shortfall the operators experience from essentially turning significant numbers of business passengers away who go back to the private car?
Dangerous overcrowding is not an acceptable way to keep ticket prices down.
How much business is kept away because people are concerned about overcrowding. If you book a seat on an intercity train you expect to get a seat (without someone’s backside in your face) and you expect to be able to get to the toilet and have a trolley going through.
It would improve the business and political cases for more or longer trains (which is often broken as you are just giving a seat to someone who is already paying to stand).
 

F Great Eastern

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Dangerous overcrowding is not an acceptable way to keep ticket prices down.
Having standees on a service is not dangerous overcrowding, restricting services to seated passengers only is stupid and the only people who would come up with such a proposal must be leisure users. People who travel for work need flexibility, remove that and then the car becomes far more attractive.

How much business is kept away because people are concerned about overcrowding. If you book a seat on an intercity train you expect to get a seat (without someone’s backside in your face) and you expect to be able to get to the toilet and have a trolley going through.
I use Intercity trains for traveling for business, I have to travel throughout the region to our locations, sometime at short notice and I cannot always be sure of what return train I will get because it will depend on a number of variable factors. If you ban fully flexible tickets I and dozens of my colleagues will stop using the railway for business altogether and travel in the car.

It would improve the business and political cases for more or longer trains (which is often broken as you are just giving a seat to someone who is already paying to stand).
No, it would simply increase fares for everyone because if you're banning standing you're essentially going to need to hike fares by double digit percentage marks to provide the extra stock, staff and overheads that will only be used for 10% of the time and spend 90% of the time parked out of use as there is no demand outside of peak.
 

NSEFAN

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Overbooking styles differ between modes, as they have different characteristics. If I know that normally 200-250 passengers turn up for a service with 300 seats, and I sell 150 Advances as well, that's the same thing. It's even less competent that the airline version, where they know that normally in fact it does work out.
I would describe it as overcrowding but not overbooking, since passengers are not entitled to a seat if they don't have a reservation.

Some of the regular 200-250 may not actually be regulars, and will instead be on those advance fares. In my experience it can be hard to predict the number of passengers on long distance trains where there is a commuter element; on regular journies from Southampton to Reading, loadings for the same train on weekdays can vary between "all seats reserved" to "plenty of seats".

Ideally trains would be long enough so that everyone can have a seat, and in the example I give the trains can be 'easily' extended if the rolling stock becomes available. On other routes with maximum length stock, it would be a waste of capacity to ban overcrowding.
 

Meerkat

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Having standees on a service is not dangerous overcrowding, restricting services to seated passengers only is stupid and the only people who would come up with such a proposal must be leisure users. People who travel for work need flexibility, remove that and then the car becomes far more attractive.



I use Intercity trains for traveling for business, I have to travel throughout the region to our locations, sometime at short notice and I cannot always be sure of what return train I will get because it will depend on a number of variable factors. If you ban fully flexible tickets I and dozens of my colleagues will stop using the railway for business altogether and travel in the car.



No, it would simply increase fares for everyone because if you're banning standing you're essentially going to need to hike fares by double digit percentage marks to provide the extra stock, staff and overheads that will only be used for 10% of the time and spend 90% of the time parked out of use as there is no demand outside of peak.
If you have short trip standing reservations you could keep standing within tolerable levels and maintain flexibility, as a stage to just banning standing on long distance services.
There is after all already an absolute limit on passengers getting on a train so no guarantee of travelling. You just want your convenience to be prioritised over others others who have made the effort to plan their journey.
If you do it and don’t allow fares to go up then it will be easier to justify longer/more trains and harder to politically ignore.
We have the technology for you to switch bookings right up until the train leaves.
 

F Great Eastern

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If you have short trip standing reservations you could keep standing within tolerable levels and maintain flexibility, as a stage to just banning standing on long distance services.
So what you're saying is that anyone paying for an Anytime full price flexible ticket who subsidize your cheap as chips leisure advance journeys should be forced to stand or be forced to make a reservation for which if they miss they should pay again, even if there are spare seats on the train? That's before we even talk about what do you define as a short trip.

There is after all already an absolute limit on passengers getting on a train so no guarantee of travelling. You just want your convenience to be prioritised over others others who have made the effort to plan their journey.
I'm sorry but you're completely out of your depth here, you don't have the faintest ideas how business travel works and saying I should just plan my journey and talking about standing reservations shows you have zero understanding of business travel and the requirements for flexibility and how that is absolutely critical and without it people just drive.

We have the technology for you to switch bookings right up until the train leaves.
Nobody in business wants to faff around with such things, they just want a fully flexible ticket that they can use when they want. If you don't give them that they will most likely just use their car. Without the business passengers, leisure passengers will face a bigger price hike because the people who are traveling for business are mostly traveling on Anytime Return tickets which are heavily cross subsidizing your advance singles.
 

AM9

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If you have short trip standing reservations you could keep standing within tolerable levels and maintain flexibility, as a stage to just banning standing on long distance services.
There is after all already an absolute limit on passengers getting on a train so no guarantee of travelling. You just want your convenience to be prioritised over others others who have made the effort to plan their journey.
If you do it and don’t allow fares to go up then it will be easier to justify longer/more trains and harder to politically ignore.
We have the technology for you to switch bookings right up until the train leaves.
OK, so take the WCML. Most of the fast trains are running at maximum length. Virtually every available path is occupied. (Until HS2 is built) there is insufficient track capacity to increase the number of paths, so as soon as the seats are booked/occupied, everybody else needing to travel has to wait until a train arrives that does have seats. At Euston, the station would become too crowded within the hour and need to be closed. That would exclude those with booked seats as well so nobody wins. At intermediate stations, say MK, trains would arrive full, and as so many of them would be pick-up only, nobody would alight so nobody could board. Thus unless demand was very low, an increasing number of passengers would just not be able to travel. Mmm, you don't seem to have thought this through at all!
However, lets continue this 'whatever's good for airlines is OK for the railway as well' and actually propose it is exactly as the airlines have it. If somebody has an open ticket that is valid on that train and is refused boarding, (as in 'bumped' airline style) then they are entitled to compensation and if no promise of completing a journey that would otherwise be complete that day, also provided with overnight accommodation. So your £60 off peak single ticket from Euston to Birmingham New Street would entitle you to £100 for delay and if the TOC couldn't find you and 50 other passengers (per overcrowded train) a seat on the same day, there would be a £100 hotel room coming your way as well. Onn a bad day, that would cost tens, maybe hundreds of thousands of pounds compensation. Forget what passengers might say, do you think that the TOCs would still want that?
 

AM9

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So what you're saying is that anyone paying for an Anytime full price flexible ticket who subsidize your cheap as chips leisure advance journeys should be forced to stand or be forced to make a reservation for which if they miss they should pay again, even if there are spare seats on the train? That's before we even talk about what do you define as a short trip.



I'm sorry but you're completely out of your depth here, you don't have the faintest ideas how business travel works and saying I should just plan my journey and talking about standing reservations shows you have zero understanding of business travel and the requirements for flexibility and how that is absolutely critical and without it people just drive.



Nobody in business wants to faff around with such things, they just want a fully flexible ticket that they can use when they want. If you don't give them that they will most likely just use their car. Without the business passengers, leisure passengers will face a bigger price hike because the people who are traveling for business are mostly traveling on Anytime Return tickets which are heavily cross subsidizing your advance singles.
I agree with most of your post but the highlighted words just aren't true. Peak travellers are the reason most of the capacity has to be provided. If travel was mostly leisure travel spread throughout the day, the railway would be sized for that demand and fares would be much lower than peak fares now. Off-peak travel is what is available because commuters demand capacity during the peak, - hence the names "peak" and "off-peak".
 

radamfi

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If you look at places where long distance trains are reservation only, for example, France and Spain, does that lead to significant loss of business travel?
 

AM9

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If you look at places where long distance trains are reservation only, for example, France and Spain, does that lead to significant loss of business travel?
Do those lines have 3 minute headways throughout the day and passengers numbers that require absolute maximum length trains? Aren't the French TGVs suffering from reduced demand lately?
 

radamfi

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Do those lines have 3 minute headways throughout the day and passengers numbers that require absolute maximum length trains? Aren't the French TGVs suffering from reduced demand lately?
Maybe SNCF should open the trains up to non-reserved passengers as an experiment so that we can compare the two scenarios?

Non-reserved passengers are allowed on TGV trains on the Calais to Lille line.
 

gsnedders

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Do those lines have 3 minute headways throughout the day and passengers numbers that require absolute maximum length trains? Aren't the French TGVs suffering from reduced demand lately?
The busiest part of LGV Sud-Est largely runs at 3 minute headways during the peaks, with 400m trains, many of which have over a thousand seats. So, yes, some TGV routes are like that.

My experience of using reservation only trains for work has always been that the experience purely depends on how easy it is to exchange tickets.
 

AM9

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The busiest part of LGV Sud-Est largely runs at 3 minute headways during the peaks, with 400m trains, many of which have over a thousand seats. So, yes, some TGV routes are like that.

My experience of using reservation only trains for work has always been that the experience purely depends on how easy it is to exchange tickets.
Have TGVs been reservations only since their introduction?
 

gsnedders

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Have TGVs been reservations only since their introduction?
Yes, they have. They somewhat controversially introduced real yield management in the mid 90s, from memory, having previously done some manual price differentiation previously.
 

The Ham

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Do those lines have 3 minute headways throughout the day and passengers numbers that require absolute maximum length trains? Aren't the French TGVs suffering from reduced demand lately?
The busiest part of LGV Sud-Est largely runs at 3 minute headways during the peaks, with 400m trains, many of which have over a thousand seats. So, yes, some TGV routes are like that.

My experience of using reservation only trains for work has always been that the experience purely depends on how easy it is to exchange tickets.
That's a yes during the peaks but not all day (which was the original question).

Although in theory (assuming that this is something which will only come into being post HS2) there's scope for extra capacity to allow for everyone to have a seat it could well be that such a proposal could well be relatively short lived before peak loadings start to loose income and people switch to other services.
 

Meerkat

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I'm sorry but you're completely out of your depth here, you don't have the faintest ideas how business travel works and saying I should just plan my journey and talking about standing reservations shows you have zero understanding of business travel and the requirements for flexibility and how that is absolutely critical and without it people just drive.
Actually I do know how it works - if flexibility is requires businessmen get advances on several trains, all but one of which then go emptier than they need to.
Just need a booking engine that makes changing reservations easy. You know how you can book a Premier Inn cheap, or pay a bit more with the ability to cancel.....

As for the idea of stations having to close....why would that happen? Everyone would know early whether they can travel or not so aren’t going to be there without a reservation.....rather than take the risk that they can’t even squeeze on a train they thought they had reserved as can happen now.
 

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