I travel very regularly on the Cross Country train that runs between Oxford and Manchester Piccadilly. As I always pre-book my ticket (using thetrainline app which is brilliant!) and reserve my aisle seat at a table (I need to work on the train) you would think that I would find this trip an easy one but I do not. Because apparently there are very few members of the travelling public who know how to get on a train and find their seat with minimal disruption to themselves or others. And it drives me mad and I rant every week on Facebook to my friends, who are so amused by my rants that they have told me to write a blog post. So here it is, my advice for train travellers:
Set yourself up for success!
If you have a seat reserved, get on at the correct end of the carriage; there are very helpful signs at the entrance to either end of the carriage which tells you the seat numbering starting at that entrance. Don’t get on the ‘Seats 1-41’ end when your seat is number 53. You will cause chaos and mayhem as you force your way against the flow and hold people up.
Speaking of seat numbering, yes, I agree the seat numbering is confusing. The seat numbering runs consecutively, it just zig zags back and forth from one side of the carriage to the other. Seat 51 is not particularly close to seat 53. Get over it.
A is for apple, not for aisle
I don’t know how many times that I have had someone insist that I am sitting in their seat because I am in the aisle seat because their seat number is 52A which must be the aisle seat as ‘a’ means ‘aisle’. Even though seat 51 is clearly labelled as the aisle seat. So I have to show them my seat reservation for ’51A’ and have the conversation for the umpteenth time that yes, it’s strange that ‘A’ doesn’t mean ‘aisle’.
Use your eyes
Reserved seats are clearly labeled by fancy little digital screens. They update from station to station as sometimes reservations are for only part of the journey; the display flags this accordingly e.g. ‘Reserved from Wolverhampton’ will be displayed at Manchester if the seat is not reserved until that station. Feel free to sit in that seat until Wolverhampton. But be prepared to move when the rightful ‘owner’ gets on at Wolverhampton. Available seats have the phrase ‘available’ displayed. It’s that simple.
Sit in your reserved seat. PLEASE!
I don’t know how many times I have had argue the point with someone sitting in my seat that it isn’t my problem that someone is sitting in their reserved seat which is why they are in mine. Get out of my seat.
Along with ‘but someone is in my seat’ I am also offered ‘Oh, but I wanted to sit with my friend, just go and sit in my seat’ [while vaguely gesturing at a non-table seat somewhere behind them]. Or ‘I didn’t see the reserved sign’ (which apparently means my reservation doesn’t count). Or they are just arses and refuse to move.
I get on the same train back each week, for part of the journey it is a major commuter line. It is a VERY busy train with lots and lots of people getting on. Which is why I fail to understand why people think it is appropriate to block the carriage aisle for up to two minutes when they get on the train to take off their coat, take six items (one at a time) out of their bag, rearrange numerous bags, etc, etc. Get on, throw your bag(s) on rack or under seat, sit down and then, everyone is on and the train is moving, get up to sort yourself out at your leisure.
So there you go. In my next installment, what not to do while on a train…