York based train operator London North Eastern Railway (LNER) says you won’t have to have a booked seat to travel on their trains from next week but they are still encouraging you to do that.
As part of the move towards ‘personal responsibilty’ when it comes to covid rules, LNER says it has made the process of planning, booking and travelling on its services simpler, and improved its reservation process to help customers to book a seat as close as five minutes prior to travel.
Millions of tickets are now on sale as far ahead as September, and with an increase in journey searches and bookings for the summer, LNER’s new simple to use app is making it even easier for customers to book their travel plans, make any changes and reserve a seat.
A move away from compulsory reservations
In response to COVID-19 and the need to maintain social distancing, LNER moved to a reservation only service. As social distancing will be no longer required by the UK government from 19 July, LNER is adapting its approach – under the new name of Seat Sure.
From 19 July, LNER will continue to recommend customers reserve a seat, while increasing the flexibility for those who want to travel without making a reservation.
To provide customers with comfortable journeys on LNER services and give confidence that trains will not be overcrowded, Seat Sure means that most seats will require a reservation.
To protect the flexibility of the walk-up railway, there will be a number of unreserved seats in Coach C for Standard and a number of seats in Coach M in First Class, or Coach E in First Class in a five-coach train.
Customers without a reservation will be able to travel in these unreserved areas of the train.
David Horne, LNER Managing Director, said: “We’ve been working hard throughout the pandemic to design new ways of making journeys by train as accessible, enjoyable and appealing as possible.
David Horne added “We’ve made booking tickets and travelling with LNER even smarter and introduced new products that make the whole experience of rail travel even more enjoyable.
“The tools we have invested in and continue to refine are industry-leading and offer customers greater flexibility and more choice when it comes to travelling with us.
“Research shows that having an assured seat has benefits beyond social distancing and the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We know that in 2019, more than 60 per cent of LNER journeys were made using tickets which had a reservation attached.
“In recent months, that has increased to 84 per cent.
“Seat Sure allows us to avoid overcrowding, which we know is important for our customers, whilst helping us manage planned disruption by making data more readily available for people travelling or planning to travel with us.”
For customers taking bikes onboard, bicycle spaces can now be booked at the same time as buying tickets directly through the LNER website as well as at a Travel Centre or via the Customer Contact Centre.
LNER is also working with Network Rail to expand bicycle parking at various stations.
The legal requirement to wear face coverings in England will be lifted on 19 July, although it will remain mandatory in Scotland.
The UK government expects and recommends that people will still wear face coverings (unless exempt) in areas where people are in close contact, including public transport.
LNER is asking customers to continue to wear face coverings on its trains, in stations and in Travel Centres. That can only be enforced when their trains are in Scotland though.