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

Bletchleyite

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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.
It would actually reduce capacity, as if a seat was reserved from Euston to MKC it can't be reserved from Euston to Manchester. Whereas now that passenger can stand to MKC then take the seat.
 
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sprunt

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it will still be a huge challenge for the next WCP opperator to manage. Making the franchise more like Eurostar would have benefits.
Reminder that the railway is supposed to be for the benefit of the people travelling on it, not the people operating it.
 

Bletchleyite

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Well, people travelling seem to enjoy complaining whenever they have to stand...which this solves.
They'll complain a lot more when they are told there are no seats for a week.

A fair bit of the issue could be solved by TOCs like LNR packing in the sales of Advance tickets on trains where there are known to be standing passengers as a regular occurrence. But they prefer to take their profit and endure the bad publicity.
 

johnnychips

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The company I work for has asked me to attend a meeting in Gent at the Saturday near the end of May, oblivious of the fact this is the weekend where British schools break up. They don't have such a half-term holiday in Belgium. So naturally the fares on Eurostar Doncaster to Any Belgian Station range from about £110-£170 on the Friday, even a month in advance. On 'normal' weekends it's about £90. I'm not surprised about this, and can't wait to hear the complaints from my company's accountant - but just imagine how much British customers could be expected to pay within Britain on a bank holiday weekend or Xmas time if they all had to pay for and reserve a seat, and expect to sit down.
 
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BigCj34

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As a crazy thought regarding usage of reservations, if you buy a walk-up ticket but are willing to possibly not have a seat you pay a bit less than the walk-up price. If you want to make a seat reservation when paying the walk-up fare you pay the regular price.

Effectively you pay more to have a reservation, though without giving a backdoor way for TOC's to raise prices as the price that is paid to have a reservation is the price TOC's legally cannot charge anymore for.

This would not apply for advance fares as reservations are required anyway.
 

Hadders

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Comparisons to Eurostar are a red herring.

Eurostar operates a point to point service only. Yes it is possible to board or alight at Ebbsfleet, Lille etc but you can’t make a journey from St Pancras to Ebbsfleet or Lille to Paris etc.

National Rail Services make intermediate station calls which would make trying to implement or enforce compulsory seat reservations all but impossible.
 

Mainline421

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Comparisons to Eurostar are a red herring.

Eurostar operates a point to point service only. Yes it is possible to board or alight at Ebbsfleet, Lille etc but you can’t make a journey from St Pancras to Ebbsfleet or Lille to Paris etc.

National Rail Services make intermediate station calls which would make trying to implement or enforce compulsory seat reservations all but impossible.
But you can make a journey from Lille to Brussels, Brussels to Amsterdam etc. on Eurostar, including flexible tickets on the latter. I do agree with your point however.
 

Mutant Lemming

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Am I missing something here ? Aren't services supposed to be operated for the benefit of passengers and not to force passengers to behave the way the operator wants them to ?
 

Jonny

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It would actually reduce capacity, as if a seat was reserved from Euston to MKC it can't be reserved from Euston to Manchester. Whereas now that passenger can stand to MKC then take the seat.
With the long-term effect being the loss of intermediate stops altogether as the operator tries to maximise revenue by chasing end-to-end traffic. Even if that doesn't happen, there is a risk that intermediate fares could rise such that passengers no longer book and then the intermediate stop gets dropped through lack of custom.

Am I missing something here ? Aren't services supposed to be operated for the benefit of passengers and not to force passengers to behave the way the operator wants them to ?
I think those in favour of the scheme would argue that their scheme is intended to benefit passengers. Which it arguably does, but at the cost of the opportunity to become a passenger.
 

AM9

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No.

HS2 goes from London to Birmingham.
If you read my post in context instead of trying to make someting of a few extracted words,even you can understand that HS2 is different to the WCML in that it will take a new route, as in pass through areas where there is currently no railway, it will have new trains (with plenty of capacity) unlike the trains which are the subject of the thread, i.e. VTWC from London to the West Midlands, North-West England and Scotland. There, - is that clear enough for you?
 

Meerkat

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For those demanding flexibility then all you need is flexible reservations.
You book on one train, then you move it if you get near the time and know you aren’t going to make it. Your original seat is freed up and becomes a sort of standby seat for anyone within reach of that train to book.
As for disruption - it will be easier to cope with.
A train gets cancelled and the operator knows the next one will have space for a load of emergency standing passengers - they can limit that to a safe number and everyone with a booked seat gets a delay repay type partial refund for the inconvenience.
 

AM9

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For those demanding flexibility then all you need is flexible reservations.
You book on one train, then you move it if you get near the time and know you aren’t going to make it. Your original seat is freed up and becomes a sort of standby seat for anyone within reach of that train to book.
As for disruption - it will be easier to cope with.
A train gets cancelled and the operator knows the next one will have space for a load of emergency standing passengers - they can limit that to a safe number and everyone with a booked seat gets a delay repay type partial refund for the inconvenience.
Are you seriously proposing that following a cancellation, passengers are deliberately prevented from travelling. Many of those passengers could be relying on that train, have turned up on time so would expect compensation for being refused boarding. That doesn't mean a token delay repay buy-off, it could well involve a TOC being sued for breach of contract. There would be no legal justification in refusing boarding on a train that had less than it's approved capacity on some daft principle that it was inconvenient for those passengers already comfortable in their seats. A court would probably look very unfavourably on a TOC that did that through choice even if it was in their conditions.
I really can't understand those here pushing for a 'no standing' culture on a railway as busy as the UK's, - unless they are in hock with the TOCS, (or have no experience of needing to board a particular train to get somewhere on time).
 

squizzler

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Are you seriously proposing that following a cancellation, passengers are deliberately prevented from travelling. Many of those passengers could be relying on that train, have turned up on time so would expect compensation for being refused boarding. That doesn't mean a token delay repay buy-off, it could well involve a TOC being sued for breach of contract. There would be no legal justification in refusing boarding on a train that had less than it's approved capacity on some daft principle that it was inconvenient for those passengers already comfortable in their seats. A court would probably look very unfavourably on a TOC that did that through choice even if it was in their conditions.
I'm not sure how one would sue the operator for 'breach of contract. You may hold the competence of some operators in low regard but I think we can assume they would manage to change the terms and conditions to be in line with any new policy.

I really can't understand those here pushing for a 'no standing' culture on a railway as busy as the UK's, - unless they are in hock with the TOCS, (or have no experience of needing to board a particular train to get somewhere on time).
I am no lackey of the train operators but see the merits of this policy for intercity journeys. The railways are a premium option above coaches in the long distance market and standees only serve to sully that image.

Now we have blablacar and even today's hitchhikers have to book their seats in advance.
 

Typhoon

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Are you seriously proposing that following a cancellation, passengers are deliberately prevented from travelling. Many of those passengers could be relying on that train, have turned up on time so would expect compensation for being refused boarding. That doesn't mean a token delay repay buy-off, it could well involve a TOC being sued for breach of contract.
Too right about compensation.
Those that are seeking to equate long distance rail travel to flights, especially TOCs need to be careful what they wish for. Airline passengers have substantial rights when it comes to being prevented from travel. Do they really want to have to offer large sums of money to passengers to stand aside because of a cancelled or shortened train? Or put passengers up in hotels because a late journey is cancelled, or if there is insufficient room? Will we see passengers refuse to leave trains because all the seats are occupied as one carriage is out of use?
If TOCs are going to insist that passengers book, they have to honour the booking.
 

Taunton

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I really can't understand those here pushing for a 'no standing' culture on a railway as busy as the UK's, - unless they are in hock with the TOCS, (or have no experience of needing to board a particular train to get somewhere on time).
The inconsistent thing is a move to end standing on Inter-City operators, many of whose passengers are making quite short journeys, while other TOCs, maybe with journeys of the same duration and cost, are ripping out seats and INCREASING standing provision. Look at what recently happened with the Waterloo Class 455s, and elsewhere.
 

Jozhua

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I don't see how this is good for passengers whatsoever. With advanced ticket purchases a reserved seat is already possible, telling people they can't stand just takes away passenger options.

Trains are an entirely different beast to planes and should not be treated the same. Sure high speed rail in Europe operates slightly differently, offering international travel but UK high speed rail also operates as a commuter rail service for many customers. (e.g. someone may commute from Stoke On Trent to Manchester.) Also passengers on planes have to be seated by law for takeoff and landing so...

If you don't want to stand or get a cheaper fare on a Virgin service, book in advance and avoid peak times. Otherwise, this plan just takes options away from people who need flexibility.

Other routes such as cross country have such little capacity that standing is almost a guaranteed part of a journey, so removing the option to just stand would reduce capacity considerably. Again, these routes are also a common part of people's commutes...
 

AM9

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I'm not sure how one would sue the operator for 'breach of contract. You may hold the competence of some operators in low regard but I think we can assume they would manage to change the terms and conditions to be in line with any new policy.



I am no lackey of the train operators but see the merits of this policy for intercity journeys. The railways are a premium option above coaches in the long distance market and standees only serve to sully that image.

Now we have blablacar and even today's hitchhikers have to book their seats in advance.
I don't think that anybody can assume that the TOCs could change the CoTs to allow the operator to withdraw a train, eject all booked passengers with a token delay repay payment and assume no responsibility for their continued journey. Don't forget, most walk-up tickets are controlled and changing the rules for their use (or even wholesale withdrawl of them) required explicit approval from the DfT. Now just how likely is a minister, - or even a whole government, going to attempt to get such a change formalised?
So, if the rules aren't changed but a TOC arbitrarily decides to cut short the seating provision, (or runs its services on such a tight equipment/staff allocation the almost any irregularity causes gross disruption to passengers), the TOC would be open to litigation from passengers on the grounds of the product (a "wonderful" travelling experience according to their publicity) falling well short of those descriptions.
This initiative from VT is nothing to do with improving the lot of any passengers and all about increasing TOCs' profit, and it is surprising that members on this forum who should be wiser to the actual workings of our pseudo-privatised railway have believed the hype.
 

AM9

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The inconsistent thing is a move to end standing on Inter-City operators, many of whose passengers are making quite short journeys, while other TOCs, maybe with journeys of the same duration and cost, are ripping out seats and INCREASING standing provision. Look at what recently happened with the Waterloo Class 455s, and elsewhere.
That was the correct move and the majority of passengers are probably better off as a result. Similarly, new purpose built trains such as class 345 and 700 can only move the huge mubers of passengers because the seating has been appropriately provisioned.
 

Chester1

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That was the correct move and the majority of passengers are probably better off as a result. Similarly, new purpose built trains such as class 345 and 700 can only move the huge mubers of passengers because the seating has been appropriately provisioned.
For commuter services it is the right approach. As intercity demand on the WCML grows the role of the WCP franchise holder in providing capacity for commuters will have to decrease. I understand that Milton Keynes is a big issue but elsewhere it is less of a problem. I often use VT between Stockport to Manchester for commuting and its beneficial for me. However, I question the long term viability of passengers being able to use rail and multi modal season tickets on intercity services. For instance Crewe/Stoke-Stockport-Piccadilly where Virgin Trains encourage commuting from further out by selling cheaper VT only season tickets. These will probably be replicated by the next franchisee but in the long term they will not be viable nor will including WCP services in Greater Manchester travel cards and season tickets. Northern services could be lengthened to provide replacement capacity. 2-4 coaches is inadequate for most services into Piccadilly via Stockport. A passing loop to allow an additional Northern service to Stoke would also help.
 

Hadders

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For commuter services it is the right approach. As intercity demand on the WCML grows the role of the WCP franchise holder in providing capacity for commuters will have to decrease. I understand that Milton Keynes is a big issue but elsewhere it is less of a problem. I often use VT between Stockport to Manchester for commuting and its beneficial for me. However, I question the long term viability of passengers being able to use rail and multi modal season tickets on intercity services. For instance Crewe/Stoke-Stockport-Piccadilly where Virgin Trains encourage commuting from further out by selling cheaper VT only season tickets. These will probably be replicated by the next franchisee but in the long term they will not be viable nor will including WCP services in Greater Manchester travel cards and season tickets. Northern services could be lengthened to provide replacement capacity. 2-4 coaches is inadequate for most services into Piccadilly via Stockport. A passing loop to allow an additional Northern service to Stoke would also help.
It’s not just Milton Keynes that’s a problem. How about the following examples - this is just a small sample:

Newport - Cardiff
Exeter - Bristol
Norwich - Ipswich
Warrington - Wigan
Durham - Newcastle
Derby - Sheffield
 

Chester1

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It’s not just Milton Keynes that’s a problem. How about the following examples - this is just a small sample:

Newport - Cardiff
Exeter - Bristol
Norwich - Ipswich
Warrington - Wigan
Durham - Newcastle
Derby - Sheffield
How many of those could be adequately served by an enhanced local service? Northern should run an EMU service along part of the WCML.
 

Hadders

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How many of those could be adequately served by an enhanced local service? Northern should run an EMU service along part of the WCML.
The above are just examples, there are many, many more where this would be a significant problem.

It’s all very well saying that an enhanced local service should run but in many cases the inter-city service is the local service. There is no local service to enhance!

Some other points to consider:

- Is there sufficient capacity to run a local stopping service? Thinking terminal platform space as well as line capacity.
- Would more stopping trains get in the way of inter-city services causing them to become slower?
- Who would pay for the cost of providing the additional local services? The additional rolling stock as well as the infrastructure enhancements.
- Who would make up the lost fare revenue of the inter-city operators as they would be carrying fewer passengers?
 

silverfoxcc

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LNW-GW joint said

because there won't be idle trains lying around, any more than BA had spare Shuttle planes.

I can confirm the BA DID have back up aircraft on the LHR-EDI route. We used it many times and it was a joy to leave the house in Bracknell at 08.00 and be sitting down in FiL house in EDI at 10.00 knowing we would be no more than 30 mins late, sometimes the planes had consecutive slots. Several times the back up had pax in single figures. When i worked at BA the conversation turned to the 'good old days' and they said that many times it was 1 pax as they didnt want to jump seat!! ( I would have paid extra for that!!) AND the ticket was purchased at the airport.
Same applied to the railways even as recently as the late 70's an extra was laid on from KX to Aberdeen, which run 10 mins behind the regular service. Admitted it was a Sunday and the service on the EC was not as intensive as it is now. BUT there was spare stock to use.
Nowadays it seems that if X units are reqd to run a a service the bean counters order X+1 as if it isnt moving it isn't making money
 

Chester1

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The above are just examples, there are many, many more where this would be a significant problem.

It’s all very well saying that an enhanced local service should run but in many cases the inter-city service is the local service. There is no local service to enhance!

Some other points to consider:

- Is there sufficient capacity to run a local stopping service? Thinking terminal platform space as well as line capacity.
- Would more stopping trains get in the way of inter-city services causing them to become slower?
- Who would pay for the cost of providing the additional local services? The additional rolling stock as well as the infrastructure enhancements.
- Who would make up the lost fare revenue of the inter-city operators as they would be carrying fewer passengers?
I am not suggesting actually adopting Virgin's proposal but elements of it and Eurostar's approach could be phased in on the busiest intercity routes as a way of handling increased growth in intercity travel. Funding would not be an issue if it was a response to growing passenger numbers.
 

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