National Express introduce evil seat reservation charge
Amid rumours that they’re on the brink of handing back the franchise for the East Coast rail line, National Express have pulled a stinking added charge trick straight out of the bag that belongs to the budget airlines.
From May 17th, passengers travelling on the company’s East Coast and East Anglia services into Kings Cross will be charged £2.50 per journey if they want to reserve a seat. Charges will apply to ordinary standard type tickets including peak-time, off-peak, super-offpeak and weekender. The charge will not apply to first class ticket holders, advance fares or season ticket holders.
A National Express spokeswoman has spun the living daylights out of the reservation charge story until it thought its mouth was its backside. She told the Evening Standard that the company are trying to “improve the on-board environment for customers,” adding, “we do find that people are often reserving multiple seats as they're not sure which train they are going to catch. By asking people to pay for a seat reservation, seats will no longer be left empty with a reserved sign.”
We don’t know about you but our experience of travelling on packed trains with empty seats that are supposedly reserved is that those seats get snapped up pretty quickly, which makes her quote look like the steaming heap of horse’s arse cobbles that it surely is.
Reports elsewhere have suggested that in the face of mounting debts, National Express are close to chucking in the towel on the loss-making East Coast line and handing the franchise back to the government. The two parties are in discussions over the future of the franchise, but if National Express think that customers will flock back to their trains now that they’re imposing sneaky added charges, they’re probably sorely mistaken.