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

6Gman

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Driving to their train home?
Then book before you leave the office or on the platform.
You don’t think Virgin would want to fill those empty seats (though you might need ORCATS to allocate based on reservations)
There's a booking office at the office?

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duffield

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...
If there aren’t enough seats for those wanting to travel then that is no different from now - there is still a limited capacity now - but you will know in advance whether or not you will get on.
It will also improve the business case for increasing capacity properly.
You've just slashed capacity by (say) 1/3, plus ensuring there are empty seats which no-one can use (the no-shows) and it's no different from now?

As for the business case for increasing capacity, that already exists.
 

Master29

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You can if you provide proper, accurate information at the station, as SNCF and DB do.

Indeed, the split train with no access between the two halves was the precise reason for BR doing compulsory reservations on APT!
..And of course there are the number zone markings at most large stations now enabling people to find their carriages....That is unless it`s the wrong way round as the XC service from Temple Meads I travelled on was a couple of weeks ago. Not that it mattered as the half of the train I got on was virtually empty, courtesy of the usual people bunching at one end of the platform. Common at Temple Meads I`ve noticed.
 

The Ham

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The problems I would see are:
- if you book with train company A and they have 5 services a day (which they have bidded for and win) would you be able to switch to a different provider of their services were full?
- a family of 5, with 3 younger children is traveling and they try to book in late to a 390 with 11 coaches, there's 35 seats showing as available, yet there's 3 or 4 in each coach and none very close to each other.
- how will allocating tickets work? Would it be that there's X tickets available a day? If that's the case (the numbers are to make the maths easy) if there's 10 trains with 100 seats (1,000 seats a day) if 500 tickets are sold and the first 6 trains of the day each have 15 people traveling then there's not enough capacity in the remaining 4 trains to seat all 410 people who still have a valid ticket for that day.
- what about if someone isn't able to get a seat between B & D because there's no spare seats between B & C because of someone traveling between A & C, even if they overlap is 10 minutes whilst the overall journey for each person is measured in hours?

I'm not saying that it wouldn't work, but I do think that there's a lot more to think about before it's a workable option.
 

Meole

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A few months of tough application, no reservation - no train for you, should encourage more planned travel, it works with airlines, the stand by system could be adapted for rail use.
 

The Ham

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A few months of tough application, no reservation - no train for you, should encourage more planned travel, it works with airlines, the stand by system could be adapted for rail use.
OK, your boss says you've got a meeting (let's say) in London tomorrow at 10:30. Oh so the trains are fully booked, so you have to drive. Due to road congestion you miss the meeting, resulting in making a business contact. That business contact would have passed the company you work for more work. Without that work the company is struggling and lays you off.

A personal care study, my boss sent me to the wrong location, as I could travel flexibly I could use rail to get to where I need to be, even though everything had been planned for several weeks.

Maybe a slightly extreme case, but not all that far fetched.

Likewise how about this as something that wouldn't be possible:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-devon-47146518

A man who travelled nearly 200 miles to reach his injured mother arrived before an ambulance reached her.

Mark Clements caught a bus, tube and two trains from London to Exmouth, Devon on Saturday after his 77-year-old mother fell and broke her hip.

The initial 999 call was made at 09:00 GMT but paramedics did not arrive until seven hours later.
Again an extreme case, but not all that far fetched (to see a stick relative) as to why you may need to travel at short notice.
 

Bletchleyite

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Again an extreme case, but not all that far fetched (to see a stick relative) as to why you may need to travel at short notice.
It doesn't even matter if I need to, I want to. And I have a car, so if the railway won't let me it can get lost.

FWIW, the lack of reasonable walk-up fares is the reason I've never yet done a Saturday Eurostar day-trip!
 

Chester1

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It doesn't even matter if I need to, I want to. And I have a car, so if the railway won't let me it can get lost.

FWIW, the lack of reasonable walk-up fares is the reason I've never yet done a Saturday Eurostar day-trip!
If capacity cannot be increased and there is too much demand then a solution that spreads out demand and makes some people look elsewhere is not necessarily a bad idea. Virgin predicted an increase from 40 million passengers per year to 50 million by 2026. Assuming HS2 phase one opens on time (which is a huge if), it will still be a huge challenge for the next WCP opperator to manage. Making the franchise more like Eurostar would have benefits.

I suspect many of the people who would be enraged by such a change also oppose HS2, which would be quite ironic.
 

Bletchleyite

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I suspect many of the people who would be enraged by such a change also oppose HS2, which would be quite ironic.
I'm in favour of HS2, as a German style "Neubaustrecke" with the same reservation policies as the existing service, just like HS1 domestics. I want it to look like ICE, not TGV.

Why would HS2 be hard to manage? It's a train, like any other train. With particularly high capacities, too.
 

AM9

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... I suspect many of the people who would be enraged by such a change also oppose HS2, which would be quite ironic.
I suspect that you are wrong. HS2 will be a new route with new trains that supposedly can provide seated capacity in excess of demand. If it was decided to restrict passengers to available seats, that would be additional capacity from day one. Capacity similar to today will still exist on the classic routes so HS2's policy would have little complaints.
 

Chester1

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I'm in favour of HS2, as a German style "Neubaustrecke" with the same reservation policies as the existing service, just like HS1 domestics. I want it to look like ICE, not TGV.

Why would HS2 be hard to manage? It's a train, like any other train. With particularly high capacities, too.
I meant that many people who would oppose such a change to the existing services ticketing i.e. controlling passenger loads in a way that prevents overcrowding, may also oppose the biggest option for new capacity.
 

Hadders

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I meant that many people who would oppose such a change to the existing services ticketing i.e. controlling passenger loads in a way that prevents overcrowding, may also oppose the biggest option for new capacity.
I think you're totally wrong with this.
 

The Ham

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It doesn't even matter if I need to, I want to. And I have a car, so if the railway won't let me it can get lost.

FWIW, the lack of reasonable walk-up fares is the reason I've never yet done a Saturday Eurostar day-trip!
Indeed, and that is why it's unlike to work on the existing rail services unless significant extra capacity can be provided.

HS2 with (at the opening of Phase 2) something like 120 million seats leaving from London every year should have enough capacity and then some for everyone to travel who wishes to. As such having such a system of only booked seats could much more easily work. However, I wouldn't expect it to stay like that for long if theres evidence of people using ECML services due to lack of capacity on HS2 if passenger numbers grow.

However you do need to be mindful that HS2 will be looking to kill off air travel on a number of routes, so being able to match it for comfort (in having booked seats) could be a game changer in the early years. Once airlines remove routes chances are they won't be coming back (as slots will be taken by other routes) and so if things do have to change there's less chance of people migrating back. Especially if it can maintain it for (say) 20 years as then the thought of flying will have been removed from most people's mind as an option (with quite a few not even ever experienced it as an option).
 

Jurg

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However you do need to be mindful that HS2 will be looking to kill off air travel on a number of routes, so being able to match it for comfort (in having booked seats) could be a game changer in the early years. Once airlines remove routes chances are they won't be coming back (as slots will be taken by other routes) and so if things do have to change there's less chance of people migrating back. Especially if it can maintain it for (say) 20 years as then the thought of flying will have been removed from most people's mind as an option (with quite a few not even ever experienced it as an option).
HS2 hasn't been built yet, and I have never experienced flying for domestic travel within GB. I'd imagine that the same applies to the vast majority of the population. I expect that HS2 will have mandatory seating, but given the masses of new capacity don't see this as an issue. Like probably most posters on this thread I'm also opposed to mandatory reservations on classic rail services. For me it would be a serious mistake to scrap the current nationwide "turn up and go" service, and I think there'd be a backlash against any politician who decided to implement this.

As an aside it would be useful to have ticketing options to allow those with flexible HS2 tickets the option to travel on unreserved classic rail services at times when there is no capacity on HS2. This couldn't reliably happen if all intercity services were mandatory reservation. There has to be a fallback with ample capacity (including standing if it comes to it), and that fallback already exists.
 

Smidster

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A few months of tough application, no reservation - no train for you, should encourage more planned travel, it works with airlines, the stand by system could be adapted for rail use.
But that implies that the loss of flexibility is somehow a good thing - I strongly disagree with that theory.

Fundamentally I don't see what "problem" this is trying to fix (other than a TOC revenue one) if you are desperate to have a seat then you can reserve one already. If you don't then you run the risk of standing for a long period - so?
 

Bantamzen

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But that implies that the loss of flexibility is somehow a good thing - I strongly disagree with that theory.

Fundamentally I don't see what "problem" this is trying to fix (other than a TOC revenue one) if you are desperate to have a seat then you can reserve one already. If you don't then you run the risk of standing for a long period - so?
The main problem as I see it is that some passengers are paying quite large sums of money for a long distance journey, only to find that the trains are so full that they can't reach their seat for part or even all of their journey. This does not lend itself to promoting rail as an alternative to driving or flying, and indirectly means that operators are increasingly unable to offer any additional services such as catering which can generate additional income from those willing to pay for it.

There's been a lot of angst about the concept of buying onto reserved only services, so how about the Shinkansen solution? Have a number of unreserved cars for those travelling at the last minute, but also offer the option even at a station based ticket machine of buying a reserved seat at the last minute if any are available. And of course you would offer the same services to smartphone users, so potentially you could still book onto a train at the station as the train pulls in. The best of both worlds, for people wanting to ensure they have a seat available they can, even potentially for a small premium, they can be assured that they will actually get the seat they wanted. And for those travelling at the last minute there is still a chance to leave when they need, subject of course to there actually being space. Plus operators can then start to look at additional, at-seat services in the reserved only carriages they can offer to help their revenue streams & potentially reducing pressure to push ticket prices up to keep profits in line (remembering that private companies will only work for profits, and this is a privatised operation).
 

yorksrob

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A few months of tough application, no reservation - no train for you, should encourage more planned travel, it works with airlines, the stand by system could be adapted for rail use.
See the passengers drop off.

I'm tired of reading about crappy airlines.
 

Marton

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This proposal is not good for those of us travelling for work.

I have travelled this week York/London/Manchester/London/Darlington for meetings of unpredictable length.

I used most trains earlier than planned, one later. Non as booked.

Should I really be required to wait for the booked train?

If so I would expect a significant discount on my spend of £550 this week.

Then there are journeys like Warrington to Wigan.
 

whhistle

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I think the key would be removing open tickets with any opperator (sic) between specific services. E.g. no open unreserved tickets to or from London using ICWC/WCP operator.

Commuters would be using season tickets (including part time season tickets). A couple of carriages could be left unreserved for them...
How would you know how many season ticket holders would use a particular service though?
What happens if it's more than 2 carriage worth?

I do see merit in some services being reservation only, as that would make things clear for those people travelling. Your train is that time, that's it. People do it with airlines.

The big problem, that I don't see anyone has identified as yet is the problem of adding yet another set of fares and regulations in an already way past overcrowded area of the railway.
This fact alone is a reason not to just go out on a whim and add it.
 

AM9

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I meant that many people who would oppose such a change to the existing services ticketing i.e. controlling passenger loads in a way that prevents overcrowding, may also oppose the biggest option for new capacity.
I think that trying to conflate support for an attempt to remove standing by taking away walk-up travel with an objection to HS2 with all the additional capacity that it will bring is erroneous. Inevitably, there will be a few who are quite comfortable sitting in their reserved seats but objecting to those without seetas travelling in their train who also object to HS2 viewing it as a "vanity project for London politicians" or whatever uninformed opinion they might have. That jaundiced view of the world is fortunately in a minority andonce the news media has found something else to fill their time/pages and HS2 is opened, the noise of that will fade to nothing.
 

PeterC

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A ban on standing on HS2 could work as it is seen as being "different". It would be far more difficult on regional inter city services which carry a mix of local and long distance traffic.
 

Ianno87

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Standing is also, effectively, banned on Eurostar and people don't complain about that, in spite of operating at 'flexible' frequencies (e.g. some London-Paris trains 30 mins apart).
 

Bletchleyite

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There's been a lot of angst about the concept of buying onto reserved only services, so how about the Shinkansen solution? Have a number of unreserved cars for those travelling at the last minute, but also offer the option even at a station based ticket machine of buying a reserved seat at the last minute if any are available
This is the kind of "hybrid" system I favour - marked reserved coaches/areas and the ability to obtain a reservation from all sales channels right up to departure.
 

Bletchleyite

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Standing is also, effectively, banned on Eurostar and people don't complain about that, in spite of operating at 'flexible' frequencies (e.g. some London-Paris trains 30 mins apart).
I absolutely do complain about it, I did above. With E* it helps that there is masses of capacity so full trains are quite rare, but the lack of off-peak walk-up fares means I rarely bother with discretionary journeys on it (and from experience if you do want a short notice weekend day trip abroad easyJet and Ryanair will often be cheaper than E*).
 

GB

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A few months of tough application, no reservation - no train for you, should encourage more planned travel, it works with airlines, the stand by system could be adapted for rail use.
Ridiculous statement. Ad-Hoc travel has always been a fundamental part of rail travel and rail business and you wan't to completely slash the number of people able to use the train? It works on airlines because 95% of people know when and where they want to go weeks and months in advance.
 

al78

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A few months of tough application, no reservation - no train for you, should encourage more planned travel, it works with airlines, the stand by system could be adapted for rail use.
Yes it will encourage more planned travel by car by reducing the flexibility and utility of the railway. Trains are not aircraft, and I see no reason why they should be treated like aircraft. For a start, planes fly from an origin to (typically) a single destination, and require high security measures, trains start from an origin and stop many times en-route to a destination, and don't require anywhere near the same security measures.

Perhaps this is a way to reduce overcrowding without actually having to do anything to increase capacity, drive as many people off the railway as possible by making it impractical.
 

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