Trains Become No-Frills?

By | Category: Travel rumblings

I write this as I travel on the National Express early morning service to Leeds. It’s not very busy in my coach despite the fact that all but 8 seats have little cards indicating they are reserved for parts or all of the journey.
National Express have announced that, as from this weekend, they are going to charge a fiver return if you want to make sure you have a seat. Passenger Focus ha provided a quote saying this is not right and two union leaders have joined in the chorus of disapproval. Bob Crow from RMT calls it bleeding passenger dry and Gerry Doherty from TSSA says that the charge is mugging passengers. Norman Baker, the Liberal MP says that seat shouldn’t be a luxury and the Yorkshire Post is running this story on it’s front page with quotes from other M.P’s.
Now we have just left Stevenage and none of the reserved empty seats were taken. And that is my point. As this train gets fuller, there may well be people standing at the end of the carriage. Why shouldn’t they have a seat? Some passengers check whether anyone is using the seat on that sector of the journey and occupy it. Others look and see the reservations and move on.
National Express claims this is attempt to discourage people from reserving seats on a number of trains. Critics, as I have said, see it as a money making exercise. It won’t apply to all seats. Season ticket holders and advance purchase tickets will be unaffected.
If it counts out unnecessary empty seats, well and good. If it is just a ploy to make more money, we’ll soon know.

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