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14.10.13

McLoughlin ‘looking into’ ratio of first class seats

Looking into the mix of first class and standard tickets available would be “sensible”, transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin has said.

It comes as new research indicates that on average only 50% of first-class seats are occupied, whilst other carriages are overcrowded.

The Telegraph looked at intercity trains arriving at Paddington, Waterloo, Liverpool Street and King’s Cross between 8am and 9am on three consecutive weekdays. The trains had on average three first class and five standard class carriages.

Less than a fifth of the first-class carriages were full or nearly full, but in almost all cases passengers were standing in standard class.

McLoughlin said: “It is sensible to think about the mix of first and standard-class carriages on our railways and it is something we are looking into. It is right to ask the question of whether it could deliver a better passenger experience.

“Equally, it is important to be absolutely clear that it is not a solution to the serious capacity issues we face.”

Anthony Smith, chief executive of Passenger Focus, said: “A balance needs to be achieved between the number of standard and first-class carriages a train has.

“It’s clear that where passengers are being squeezed into standard-class carriages while there are plenty of empty seats in first class, this balance is not being achieved.”

Chiltern Railways has scrapped all first-class carriages on its services, and instead runs business zones with thirty seats available per train for a £25 supplement. Commercial director Thomas Ableman said: “Companies and individuals just can’t afford first-class travel in this day and age.

“Our view was that first class was a remnant of the days when railways were organised on a class basis. Nowadays it’s not about aristocrats reading newspapers – it’s about making the best use of people’s time, so they can have Wi-Fi and tables for their laptops.”

Tell us what you think – have your say below, or email us directly at opinion@railtechnologymagazine.com

Comments

Ricp   18/10/2013 at 05:48

No, the number of First Class seats should be significantly reduced. Even on an Outer Suburban service from Kings Cross at the peak, Standard class is packed, but seats are always available in First Class. As I am only going on a 5 minute journey to Finsbury Park, preferable to the tube, and am partially disabled, I invariably sit in 1st class if Standard is full and standing. The big issue comes with Virgin's Pendolinos, where a 9 car set has 4 FIRST CLASS carriages. One must be refitted as Standard, and another could be remarketed, as Andrew has suggested, as Business Class, Standard Plus, with Coffee / Tea, a light Continental Breakfast until 11.00 am then an inclusive light snack meal. Virgin's fares could then be restructured from their 'rip-off' levels for the Standard Open Singles and Returns, to reflect a more sensible price inflation from when the routes were first electrified in the late 1960s. Then the Ordinary Single from London to Birmingham was £1.10s.3d, thats £1.51, which should be about £38.50 today, about half the Virgin price. PS Your picture is NOT a Pendolino, it is the Mk 3 Loco-Hauled Pretendolino

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