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Seat reservations

Seat reservations

Railsmartr doesn’t offer seat maps, like airlines, yet. Watch this space for future updates!

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At the moment, you cannot reserve a space for your bike… but watch this space, as this is a feature we will be adding soon!

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Unfortunately, there aren’t seat reservations on rail replacement buses and coaches. That is because a rail replacement is a bus or a coach, not a train.

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Yes. You can sit in a seat that is reserved, but unoccupied. If the seat reservation has not been taken up within a few minutes of departing the station from which the seat is reserved, you can sit in empty reserved seats. In this case, the seat is considered to be unused, therefore you may occupy it. You are allowed to sit in unoccupied reserved seats even if you don’t have any seat reservation. However, the unoccupied seat must be in the same class of accommodation that your ticket is valid for. Unused seat reservations happen because many passengers get a seat reservation with a flexible ticket. If they decide to travel on a different train, the seat reservation becomes unused. More details on seat reservations are available here.

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If you have an Advance ticket, then you should sit in your reserved seat, especially on busier services. In fact, that is more considerate towards other passengers. Otherwise, if you have a flexible ticket (such as an Off-Peak or Anytime ticket), you do not have to sit in your reserved seat. Indeed, you could travel on another train service for which you don’t have a seat reservation. However, if you are travelling on the train service on which you made a seat reservation, it is considerate to sit in your reserved seat. 

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If there’s someone already in your reserved seat, first, check your ticket to be sure you are looking at the correct seat in the correct coach (and on the correct service!). If you are certain that you are correct, ask the other person politely if they would move. In most cases, this is an honest mistake and is simply resolved. Of course, if there are lots of unreserved seats, then you may prefer to sit in one of those.

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If there are no reservations on the train at all, this usually means that every seat is regarded as unreserved. Sometimes, usually for operational reasons, train operating companies are not able to add reservations to a train. In this case, you should sit anywhere in the same class of accommodation shown on your ticket. Train operating company representatives are usually available to guide you through what to do under such circumstances. Additionally, some train operators (such as LNER), offer a seat reservation guarantee. This means that, if you are unable to get a seat at all (not just the one you originally reserved), as a result of missing reservations, you will receive compensation up to 100% of the value of your ticket. More details on seat reservations are available here.

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Unfortunately, seat reservations are not guaranteed. Railsmartr depends upon the National Reservation System to obtain seat reservations for customers. Train operators use them to print out the reservation cards that are attached to seat backs. Your ticket is still valid without a seat reservation. Therefore, you can sit anywhere in the same class of accommodation shown on your ticket, whether or not you hold a seat reservation.

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It is not always possible to meet your seat reservation preferences, however we will try and match your preferences to the seats available. In fact, seat reservations are subject to availability and we cannot guarantee that your preferences can be met. In particular, seats with tables are often in limited supply. Therefore, it may not be possible to get one.

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We request from the reservation system that seats are grouped together for multiple travellers. Sometimes, it might look like your seats are not grouped together, even though they are. For instance, seats around a table may not have consecutive numbers. When the train is busy, it may simply not be possible to group passengers together. That is because most seats have been booked already. However, you may be able to sit together in a carriage that does not have seat reservations. In fact, there is at least one carriage, or part of one, which is left without any reservations in longer distance trains.

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