Table vs. Facing vs. Airline + other proposals: what is the correct balance?

bramling

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As far as I can tell there are three layouts of seat in use on the network:
  • Airline seats- where the seat faces the back of the seat in front
  • Table seats- where the seat faces a table, and then another seat facing the opposite way
  • Facing seats without tables - where the seat faces another seat but with no table inbetween.

Many people around this forum appear to be in favour of a train layout where most, if not all, seats
are table seats. But many people travelling alone prefer the privacy of an airline seat (although when not well-designed these can lack legroom and the seat-back tables can be too small).

So, what do members think is, practically, the best balance between table seats, facing seats without a table, and airline-style seats?
Anything from 40/60 to 60/40 is fine by my book.

Detest longitudinal seating and in my view we shouldn’t have it at all but for the purest metro operations. I don’t find it works that well in any case - standing space is compromised by outstretched legs, which doesn’t tend to happen on trains with transverse seating. The S stock is no better either.
 
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Ianno87

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Anything from 40/60 to 60/40 is fine by my book.
Probably about right unless you're really wanting something high density.

The problem with having too many tables is that single travellers will sit at them individually (it 'looks' odd to pick an already occupied bay when another is completely free) - thus inefficiently filling them. Then when a group/family get on there isn't one completely free.
 

bramling

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Probably about right unless you're really wanting something high density.

The problem with having too many tables is that single travellers will sit at them individually (it 'looks' odd to pick an already occupied bay when another is completely free) - thus inefficiently filling them. Then when a group/family get on there isn't one completely free.
Oh dear what a shame, the stereotypical weekend family who turn up at the last minute and groan when they don’t get a table seat! I’m afraid my sympathy there is somewhere between zero and nothing. The reduction in tables on the 365 was the catalyst for a few squabbles over same, always weekends needless to say.

Personally I prefer facing seats. Those of a certain generation in some parts of the country will have been used to this being the default of what a train is like - when the 365s first arrived it was quite a culture shock to find airline seats. For some reason, probably thanks to being used to facing seats from an early age, airline seats just don’t quite feel “right”. Of course in those days with lighter loadings it was also typical to expect 4 or 6 seats to one’s self at most times off-peak. In all honesty I don’t mind airline seats as long as the legroom is okay, but I’ll rarely choose one with a free choice.
 

tofl

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I have back problems and find window seats on the 700 and 717 uncomfortable because I can't put my feet down evenly, so I sit on the aisle seat usually. Prefer to do this with seats facing as it's easier for others to come past me to sit by the window. Doing that with airline style when the window seat is free seems antisocial.
 

Roger100

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While table seats are very nice, I often find a lack of legroom if there is a tall assertive type sitting opposite me. I find it especially uncomfortable in the window seat, but aisle seats after a bit more leg room, as do the single first class seats. So on long trips I usually opt for airline seats - I am not tall and the leg room is all my own. Most of my long trips are in Grand Central 180s, I find the seats are quite comfortable as opposed to LNER Mk 4 which I don't like at all. Maybe the Mk 4 has less floor width too?

But for short trips I actually like the 142 Pacer bus seats. The lack of high seat backs means the carriage seems quite airy with good views out of the windows. These are being replaced with 'modern' 156 and 158 units with horrible tight table seats. Photo - inside 142032 last week.142032 inside.jpg
 

Mikey C

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The PRM changes have rather spoiled the seat/window alignment on the Networkers, but have delivered the extra legroom priority airline seats which are very comfortable for us taller people!

I've been used to seeing these on the "2" side with the "3" sides unmodified, so was slightly surprised today to see a set of "3" airline seats, an arrangement I only recall seeing on 150s (the airline seats on the Networkers were near the door and always 2 + 2 with more standing space). As these were extra legroom priority seats it was easy for people to get in and out (unlike on the 150s!)
 

Statto

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I prefer airline style seats, i'm quite tall & often find it uncomfortable sitting at table seats when other passengers are sat opposite me, trying to adjust the position of my legs all the time without getting cramp.

Pendolinos & Merseyrail 507/508 units, are awful for seats not being properly aligned with the windows, with some seats with no windows next to them, 158, also 156 are best seating
 

SteveM70

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The biggest problem with the drop down tables on airline style seats is that the usable space for anything other than a book or phone is generally next to nothing because the angle of the back of the seat in front. Proper half tables like in some of the pendolinos are good though.

I prefer a table seat, and most of the time if there’s someone sat opposite we can endure a little British style awkwardness and agree whether we’re going legs left or right so we can both stretch our legs out

But I do wish more effort went into aligning seats with windows - often I feel this has been completely ignored during the design process
 

Mikey C

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Pendolinos & Merseyrail 507/508 units, are awful for seats not being properly aligned with the windows, with some seats with no windows next to them, 158, also 156 are best seating
The PEPs and the Mk3 based EMUs all had awful seat/window alignment. The Networkers finally got this right as the windows were shorter and designed alongside the seating layout
 

route101

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The PEPs and the Mk3 based EMUs all had awful seat/window alignment. The Networkers finally got this right as the windows were shorter and designed alongside the seating layout
Yeah noticed on the 314 yesterday , seats always align with the pillar
 

route101

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Probably about right unless you're really wanting something high density.

The problem with having too many tables is that single travellers will sit at them individually (it 'looks' odd to pick an already occupied bay when another is completely free) - thus inefficiently filling them. Then when a group/family get on there isn't one completely free.
Good point , thats why i dont take up a table , i leave them for groups . Ive seen people almost kicked out of tables , when the group asks or somewhat forces the single traveller out of the bay of 4.
 

Nick Ashwell

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Personally I'm of the around 50/50 persuasion. I do however absolutely despise the facing seats other than the ones with a half table. Ive found that some people take this as an opportunity to sit back with legs stretched out, thus actually reducing the capacity as I won't sit opposite someone sprawled out in the bay. Tables get round this by giving, IMHO, a psychological barrier that prevents people sticking their legs out
 

HSP 2

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But I do wish more effort went into aligning seats with windows - often I feel this has been completely ignored during the design process
IIRC up until we got the B.R. Mk 3 coaches most if not all seats had tables and a good view out of windows. D.M.Us. were a law until themselves.

Bring back Mk 1 compartments you could stretch out on an over night train and get some sleep, one person in a six seater, not that bad.
 

bramling

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Good point , thats why i dont take up a table , i leave them for groups . Ive seen people almost kicked out of tables , when the group asks or somewhat forces the single traveller out of the bay of 4.
Absolutely not on. Bays of four are not specifically designated for groups, so they can be politely (or not so politely) told to do one.

If someone wants a particular type of seat, simple solution is to turn up early, or if this is impracticable then wait until the desired seat becomes available.
 

SteveM70

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IIRC up until we got the B.R. Mk 3 coaches most if not all seats had tables and a good view out of windows. D.M.Us. were a law until themselves.

Bring back Mk 1 compartments you could stretch out on an over night train and get some sleep, one person in a six seater, not that bad.
If you think back to the later versions of the mk 2s, there were 8 windows each side on standard class carriages but only 7 on first class, ie the build of the carriage considered the seating layout. Unthinkable these days
 

RLBH

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If you think back to the later versions of the mk 2s, there were 8 windows each side on standard class carriages but only 7 on first class, ie the build of the carriage considered the seating layout. Unthinkable these days
The change there was that Mark 2 coaches were body-on-underframe; you could have built one as half sleeping car, half mineral wagon if you'd wanted to. I don't know why you would, but you could.

Mark 3s and subsequent stock are monocoque - the bodyshell is loadbearing, so as soon as you start messing around with the windows you have to reassess the strength of the coach, and potentially do redesign. That's expensive, but the vehicle is lighter and safer. So you do as much as you can with one bodyshell design.
 

Bletchleyite

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The change there was that Mark 2 coaches were body-on-underframe
No, they weren't, they were in fact the first monocoque design.

Mark 3s and subsequent stock are monocoque - the bodyshell is loadbearing, so as soon as you start messing around with the windows you have to reassess the strength of the coach, and potentially do redesign. That's expensive, but the vehicle is lighter and safer. So you do as much as you can with one bodyshell design.
This was a decision from the Mk3 but could easily have been made earlier.
 

swaldman

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There's a qualitative difference in airline seats, when the spacing (and table size) is sufficient to allow a large person to work on a laptop. TGV and Shinkansen sets both manage this in standard class, but no UK trains do.

In the UK I'll do anything I can to get a table seat, because it makes the difference between a long journey spent working and a long journey that is "wasted" time. In France or Japan I'm not fussed, as either setup has enough room.

Once you do have this sort of spacing, then you also have room to have pairs of seats that spin around to let the occupants choose when to have a bay (albeit without table). But obviously doing that takes more room than UK airline *or* table arrangements.
 

Mark B

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There's a qualitative difference in airline seats, when the spacing (and table size) is sufficient to allow a large person to work on a laptop. TGV and Shinkansen sets both manage this in standard class, but no UK trains do.

In the UK I'll do anything I can to get a table seat, because it makes the difference between a long journey spent working and a long journey that is "wasted" time. In France or Japan I'm not fussed, as either setup has enough room.

Once you do have this sort of spacing, then you also have room to have pairs of seats that spin around to let the occupants choose when to have a bay (albeit without table). But obviously doing that takes more room than UK airline *or* table arrangements.
Yes, exactly this. I was amazed when a colleague told me I didnt need to bother getting a table on a German ICE (standard class) as you could use your laptop fine in airline. I thought he must have one of those tiny laptops, but he was right.

I can see pros and cons of table and airline but does anyone really prefer table-less facing (e.g. 700s)? I always avoid these as the worst of both worlds. Maybe a bit of nostalgia for e.g. VEP fans (before my time/wrong area) but otherwise, why???
 

Bletchleyite

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I always choose these over airline on the 333s.
For me they're second choice on the 350/2 over a vehicle-end airline seat. The spacing is very generous and you can put your foot up on the conduit (at least until they put plug sockets on there in the way).

I wouldn't choose no table over table with everything else being equal, though.
 

bramling

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For me they're second choice on the 350/2 over a vehicle-end airline seat. The spacing is very generous and you can put your foot up on the conduit (at least until they put plug sockets on there in the way).

I wouldn't choose no table over table with everything else being equal, though.
Here’s an open question - what’s so special about the end corner airline seats on a 1/3 2/3 vehicle?

I’ve noticed more or less since day one these were very popular on the 365s, and I don’t get why. On the driving cars they will mean sitting directly over the motors which means they are amongst the noisiest seats on the whole train, as well as having the roughest ride. They don’t have any legroom advantage over anywhere else, and there’s the constant irritation of the gangway doors opening and closing. They also receive draught from any and every open window. Features for rail enthusiasts to enjoy perhaps, but I can’t understand why any “normal” would regard these as prize seats, yet they are always very quick to fill. Any thoughts?!
 

Bletchleyite

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Here’s an open question - what’s so special about the end corner airline seats on a 1/3 2/3 vehicle?

I’ve noticed more or less since day one these were very popular on the 365s, and I don’t get why. On the driving cars they will mean sitting directly over the motors which means they are amongst the noisiest seats on the whole train, as well as having the roughest ride. They don’t have any legroom advantage over anywhere else, and there’s the constant irritation of the gangway doors opening and closing. They also receive draught from any and every open window. Features for rail enthusiasts to enjoy perhaps, but I can’t understand why any “normal” would regard these as prize seats, yet they are always very quick to fill. Any thoughts?!
On a Class 350 they have more legroom than the centre section, if that helps, because it's two rows aligned to a window rather than slightly less than a window in the centre section? I don't know about 365s. On 321s they are/were the only airline seats.
 

Mikey C

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Here’s an open question - what’s so special about the end corner airline seats on a 1/3 2/3 vehicle?

I’ve noticed more or less since day one these were very popular on the 365s, and I don’t get why. On the driving cars they will mean sitting directly over the motors which means they are amongst the noisiest seats on the whole train, as well as having the roughest ride. They don’t have any legroom advantage over anywhere else, and there’s the constant irritation of the gangway doors opening and closing. They also receive draught from any and every open window. Features for rail enthusiasts to enjoy perhaps, but I can’t understand why any “normal” would regard these as prize seats, yet they are always very quick to fill. Any thoughts?!
Maybe people feel they are more private, and there's less chance that someone will sit next to them?
 

HowardGWR

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It's interesting that in the pre-war days, leaving aside some local 'motor' trains, the only seats that were table seats were the restaurant cars. Compartment coaches meant that you might always end up sitting opposite one another, no tables, yet that never seemed to happen except at rush hours on commuter trains, probably due to far less rail usage. I don't remember anyone longing for 'open' coaches. These were introduced as 'excursion' coaches and thus a clear indication that less comfort was expected.

Then we had the 'open' coach, as a standard, in which all seats were 'table seats' until some bright spark thought up airline seating, I think in the 80s?
I recently travelled on an ICE train where some compartments were provided and found these cramped. The reason for this was that the compartment was full of pax.

That's the essence of it to my mind. In 1955, you usually got a compartment to yourself or with a couple of pax for company, but now it's all like a chicken coop, regardless of seating layout, packed, smelly and very noisy .
 
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