What proportion of long distance trains are now sold out at weekends?

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deltic

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Given the railways are still enforcing social distancing unlike the airlines it is notable that on some intercity routes trains are either completely sold out or only full price first class tickets are available eg London to Manchester this Friday evening. I was also looking at Bristol to Glasgow where only early morning and late evening trains seem to have seats available over the next week or so.

Does anyone have a feel as to what proportion of services are now selling out on each of the main intercity routes?
 
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HamworthyGoods

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Given the railways are still enforcing social distancing unlike the airlines it is notable that on some intercity routes trains are either completely sold out or only full price first class tickets are available eg London to Manchester this Friday evening. I was also looking at Bristol to Glasgow where only early morning and late evening trains seem to have seats available over the next week or so.

Does anyone have a feel as to what proportion of services are now selling out on each of the main intercity routes?

Advance Purchase Tickets often sell out anyway on routes as there's always been a quota, to aid distancing that quota might have been reduced.

I think LNER is the only route which actually sells out - standing passengers are still allowed on GWR Intercity Trains for example.
 

williamn

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Quite a lot (the majority) or LNER trains were sold out over the last bank holiday weekend. Was trying to make a local trip from Newcastle to Alnwick that weekend and it was impossible.
 

el_lnrd

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Cross-Country trains, very complicated all the more when they are the only TOC operating on the route. Cheltenham-Birmingham quite complicated at times... I managed to grab an off-peak return to take whichever I wanted, they don't prevent you from boarding and there is always some room inside...
 

HST274

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I guess it depends on times cause I managed to catch a reservation for this friday mid day bought today for an XC train and distance counts too maybe as this was only a one stop affair.
 

Paul Duck

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Totally agree with comment that I am seeing most LNER services 'sold out' now every day currently. Making life a little difficult with customers turning up expecting to simply buy a ticket for next LNER service from here in Northallerton. Having to have some awkward conversations about why I can't just sell a ticket for next train with no seat even though they can walk 5 metres and use the ticket machine, buy one and nothing stopping them from boarding next train.
A different angle is that we are having to use a bit of knowledge and experience to work some magic in finding a train with a reservation and getting them on that one.
Fridays seemed to be the day that is becoming really difficult to find seats 1st.
Had a look for when Scotland are at Wembley in couople of weeks and LNER services are showing full all day from Edinburgh. Could be interesting to see how that one pans out.
 

deltic

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Totally agree with comment that I am seeing most LNER services 'sold out' now every day currently. Making life a little difficult with customers turning up expecting to simply buy a ticket for next LNER service from here in Northallerton. Having to have some awkward conversations about why I can't just sell a ticket for next train with no seat even though they can walk 5 metres and use the ticket machine, buy one and nothing stopping them from boarding next train.
A different angle is that we are having to use a bit of knowledge and experience to work some magic in finding a train with a reservation and getting them on that one.
Fridays seemed to be the day that is becoming really difficult to find seats 1st.
Had a look for when Scotland are at Wembley in couople of weeks and LNER services are showing full all day from Edinburgh. Could be interesting to see how that one pans out.

Yes the system falls apart when people just want to make short trips and buy a ticket from a ticket machine of have an open return ticket and just turn up to board a service

I dont see how the airlines can drop social distancing but coaches and railways are expected to maintain them. Hopefully restrictions will drop later this month otherwise the summer is going to be very difficult
 

Bletchleyite

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I dont see how the airlines can drop social distancing but coaches and railways are expected to maintain them. Hopefully restrictions will drop later this month otherwise the summer is going to be very difficult

It only seems to be the long distance operators that are maintaining it. The English local operators aren't and haven't been for a long time.

I wonder if it's a tacit attempt to discourage long distance travel by typically younger people who haven't been jabbed yet?
 

Wilts Wanderer

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Yes the system falls apart when people just want to make short trips and buy a ticket from a ticket machine of have an open return ticket and just turn up to board a service

I dont see how the airlines can drop social distancing but coaches and railways are expected to maintain them. Hopefully restrictions will drop later this month otherwise the summer is going to be very difficult

There’s always been one set of rules for the airlines and one set of rules for everyone else. Just look at fuel duty (or lack of it) on aviation fuel. The airline industry clearly has better placed government lobbyists than anyone else.
 

deltic

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There’s always been one set of rules for the airlines and one set of rules for everyone else. Just look at fuel duty (or lack of it) on aviation fuel. The airline industry clearly has better placed government lobbyists than anyone else.
At the risk of going off topic there is effectively no fuel duty on diesel used by the railways and the international agreement on no duty on aviation fuel was implemented when many airlines were nationally owned
 

Bletchleyite

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At the risk of going off topic there is effectively no fuel duty on diesel used by the railways and the international agreement on no duty on aviation fuel was implemented when many airlines were nationally owned

In any case if you apply duty to airline fuel they'll just fly it in from another country that doesn't. That's why we have Air Passenger Duty instead - the only effective way to tax international airline operation is to tax the departures in some form.
 

Watershed

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There’s always been one set of rules for the airlines and one set of rules for everyone else. Just look at fuel duty (or lack of it) on aviation fuel. The airline industry clearly has better placed government lobbyists than anyone else.
The only reason why the railway need be concerning itself with social distancing is to stay in the DfT's "good books". At least in England, there is no legal obligation to ensure social distancing, whether from the perspective of the train company or the passenger.

It's very disappointing, albeit entirely unsurprising, that parts of the industry are losing potential revenue by turning passengers away. This was all very foreseeable when LNER started with their compulsory reservation policy last year.
 

williamn

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Totally agree with comment that I am seeing most LNER services 'sold out' now every day currently. Making life a little difficult with customers turning up expecting to simply buy a ticket for next LNER service from here in Northallerton. Having to have some awkward conversations about why I can't just sell a ticket for next train with no seat even though they can walk 5 metres and use the ticket machine, buy one and nothing stopping them from boarding next train.
A different angle is that we are having to use a bit of knowledge and experience to work some magic in finding a train with a reservation and getting them on that one.
Fridays seemed to be the day that is becoming really difficult to find seats 1st.
Had a look for when Scotland are at Wembley in couople of weeks and LNER services are showing full all day from Edinburgh. Could be interesting to see how that one pans out.
Unfortunately the ticket machines at NCL wouldn't sell me an open ticket, so I just couldn't go to Alnmouth! Does seem a bit extraordinary that people are being prevented from taking a local trip like this, esp for a route like this when LNER is the primary provider of trains and they're only every two hours anyway.
 

Watershed

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Unfortunately the ticket machines at NCL wouldn't sell me an open ticket, so I just couldn't go to Alnmouth! Does seem a bit extraordinary that people are being prevented from taking a local trip like this, esp for a route like this when LNER is the primary provider of trains and they're only every two hours anyway.
Were all the XC services also fully reserved?

It would be rather ironic if, despite ticket machines and a ticket office being available, you don't have the opportunity to buy a ticket before travel at a station as large as Newcastle.

Of course, Newcastle's barriers will put paid to any attempt to board without a ticket, unless you buy a ticket just to get through the barriers. That, in turn, could land you in quite a bit of bother if you ask the guard to buy a ticket from Newcastle.

This issue is only going to get worse as passenger numbers keep on rising. But the only way I can see LNER etc. dropping their ludicrous policy is if someone with sufficient clout (i.e. the DfT) tells them to... Until then, they'll be happy to continue pretending they're an airline on wheels.
 
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alistairlees

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The only reason why the railway need be concerning itself with social distancing is to stay in the DfT's "good books". At least in England, there is no legal obligation to ensure social distancing, whether from the perspective of the train company or the passenger.

It's very disappointing, albeit entirely unsurprising, that parts of the industry are losing potential revenue by turning passengers away. This was all very foreseeable when LNER started with their compulsory reservation policy last year.
The DfT is paying for the railways. The DfT has told the TOCs to ensure there is social distancing.
 

williamn

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Were all the XC services also fully reserved?

It would be rather ironic if, despite ticket machines and a ticket office being available, you don't have the opportunity to buy a ticket before travel at a station as large as Newcastle.

Of course, Newcastle's barriers will put paid to any attempt to board without a ticket, unless you buy a ticket just to get through the barriers. That, in turn, could land you in quite a bit of bother if you ask the guard to buy a ticket from Newcastle.

This issue is only going to get worse as passenger numbers keep on rising. But the only way I can see LNER etc. dropping their ludicrous policy is if someone with sufficient clout (i.e. the DfT) tells them to... Until then, they'll be happy to continue pretending they're an airline on wheels.
There were no XC services as far as I could see (was a Saturday), at least not at times that I was wanting to travel.
 

Brooklands

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The whole situation is crazy. I travelled on Bluestar buses in Southampton on Sunday and recorded announcements were stating that ‘all’ forward facing seats were available for use.
It also specifically stated that it was permissible to sit next to other passengers.
So what’s going on with the railways?
 

nickw1

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This seems to highlight the problem of trying to use the same train for both local and long-distance services - why should a long-distance train with compulsory reservation be the only option for local passengers?

I'm not sure if there is a way of changing the pattern of services to reduce the frequency of, but speed up and lengthen, long distance services - and thus allow more paths for local trains. This would have benefits of the long-distance services being faster and less crowded, as local passengers would no longer be trying to use them (albeit less frequent) and local trains could then be used for local passengers (who could turn-up-and-go at any time). For this specific example, and with the disclaimer that I am not a local the line north of Newcastle could be served by something like an hourly Newcastle-Berwick all-stations-stopper (and then run the inter-city trains fast Newcastle to Berwick, albeit perhaps with a slight drop in frequency - are more than two inter-cities per hour north of Newcastle actually necessary?)
 
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Emaharg

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I did a move to Alnwick a couple of weeks back on Cross Country unreserved and back onto the Edinburgh bound LNER which I had bailed at York previously in the move. I didn't however have to buy tickets as I was on an all line. My understanding is coach C on LNER is unreserved at the moment
 

dan5324

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It’s daft that Trains are still maintaining social distancing seeing as coaches and buses have now dropped it and returned to full capacity.
 

JonathanH

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It’s daft that Trains are still maintaining social distancing seeing as coaches and buses have now dropped it and returned to full capacity.
Why is it 'daft'? There are differences in the seating arrangements on trains. There remains guidance about social distancing being observed wherever possible, and stricter provisions in Wales and Scotland. It hasn't gone away, you know (although I concede that there is a question about if social distancing isn't removed now, when would it be).
 

dan5324

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Why is it 'daft'? There are differences in the seating arrangements on trains. There remains guidance about social distancing being observed wherever possible, and stricter provisions in Wales and Scotland. It hasn't gone away, you know (although I concede that there is a question about if social distancing isn't removed now, when would it be).
It’s daft because if it’s safe on narrower, more cramped coaches, why isn’t it safe on more spacious trains? Or does The big bad rona only travel backwards?
 

aag2110

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Think LNER were particularly full on bank holiday weekend. Travelled up to Leeds on Saturday morning (on a 1st class ticket as all that was available at 3 days notice) and Kings Cross was busier than I’ve seen it in a long time!! Felt almost like normal!
But sort of predictable, Edinburgh trains are always full on bank holiday weekends social distancing or not, just the difference now is people can’t cram in & stand for 4hrs.

but generally in the week has been fine providing you can be a bit flexible on times, I’m still finding pretty cheap advances 3/4 days in advance for KGX-LDS. Although obviously different situation for turn up & go local journeys.
 

Essexman

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I did a move to Alnwick a couple of weeks back on Cross Country unreserved and back onto the Edinburgh bound LNER which I had bailed at York previously in the move. I didn't however have to buy tickets as I was on an all line. My understanding is coach C on LNER is unreserved at the moment

Coach C was unreserved when I travelled from Kings Cross to Newcastle last week. The Train Manager announced that passengers weren’t allowed to sit in it and would be told to move if they did. I assumed it was left empty for passengers joining without reservations at stations further north. We were also told that we must sit in our reserved seat and would be told to move if we didn’t, which meant that it wasn’t permitted to move to an unused or vacated seat in order to increase social distancing.
 

BluePenguin

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It only seems to be the long distance operators that are maintaining it. The English local operators aren't and haven't been for a long time.

I wonder if it's a tacit attempt to discourage long distance travel by typically younger people who haven't been jabbed yet?
Potentially, although most young people are undeterred by this sort of thing. Knowing trains are not “sold out” they would travel anyway or find an alternative way method to travel.

Taking the coach instead, having someone drive them if not themselves, or simply travelling by train anyway with no ticket but paying when challenged. I doubt anyone decides to abandon their journey because a website won’t sell them a ticket - I wouldn’t either.

However, a large proportion of young people depend on advance tickets to make their journeys affordable. As these are impossible to find at the moment as trains are sold out, then anyone without a stable job or deep pockets probably was already not travelling by train anyway due to high walk up ticket costs alone
 
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mmh

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Of course, Newcastle's barriers will put paid to any attempt to board without a ticket, unless you buy a ticket just to get through the barriers. That, in turn, could land you in quite a bit of bother if you ask the guard to buy a ticket from Newcastle.

"Hi, my ticket's to Blah but I want to go to Bleh. Can I buy a ticket to Bleh please?"

I've done that many times. Why would it land you in bother?

Coach C was unreserved when I travelled from Kings Cross to Newcastle last week. The Train Manager announced that passengers weren’t allowed to sit in it and would be told to move if they did. I assumed it was left empty for passengers joining without reservations at stations further north. We were also told that we must sit in our reserved seat and would be told to move if we didn’t, which meant that it wasn’t permitted to move to an unused or vacated seat in order to increase social distancing.

Ah, that legendary GNER customer "service." The company may be dead, but its spirit lives on!
 

GoneSouth

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It only seems to be the long distance operators that are maintaining it. The English local operators aren't and haven't been for a long time.

Unfortunately GWR are both long distance and local operator which means they have in the past few weeks started to put some of the long distance restrictions on their local trains. I tried to book tickets on a local train going through Bristol last week but couldn’t due to the train being sold out. The app wouldn’t sell me any kind of ticket, but no attempt was made to stop walk up passengers buying tickets and boarding. Needless to say the train was standing room only into Temple Meads which makes the attempt to stop people buying tickets in advance utterly pointless.

I’ve no doubt this nonsense will make it incredibly difficult to buy a single ticket for journeys involving change of train and operator too which is going to be very tiresome.
 

mmh

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Unfortunately GWR are both long distance and local operator which means they have in the past few weeks started to put some of the long distance restrictions on their local trains. I tried to book tickets on a local train going through Bristol last week but couldn’t due to the train being sold out. The app wouldn’t sell me any kind of ticket, but no attempt was made to stop walk up passengers buying tickets and boarding. Needless to say the train was standing room only into Temple Meads which makes the attempt to stop people buying tickets in advance utterly pointless.

I’ve no doubt this nonsense will make it incredibly difficult to buy a single ticket for journeys involving change of train and operator too which is going to be very tiresome.

Avanti West Coast do this - it is usually impossible to buy tickets online for local journeys in North Wales on their trains. The "solution" is to just buy a ticket for a different operator's train at a different time and travel on their's anyway (although that might not be an option everywhere), or just buy a ticket from a ticket office or machine. It's insanity - their trains are invariably quieter than the local operator's anyway!
 

lachlan

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Why is it 'daft'? There are differences in the seating arrangements on trains. There remains guidance about social distancing being observed wherever possible, and stricter provisions in Wales and Scotland. It hasn't gone away, you know (although I concede that there is a question about if social distancing isn't removed now, when would it be).
It's daft because the negative social and environmental effects of pushing people to drive or fly over taking the train will outlast the pandemic. And as already stated, if coaches and planes don't need social distancing why do trains?

LNER happily sold me a ticket facing (diagonally) someone else at a table. Is this really any different to directly facing or sitting beside someone? I don't think so.
 
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