Train operator LNER will provide up-to-date online maps of free seats and introduce a ‘traffic light’ system onboard to show availability.
Lights will indicate whether the seat is unreserved (green), reserved for part of a journey (amber) or reserved the whole way (red). A screen above the seat will show which part of the journey the seat is reserved for.
Meanwhile LNER has announced new ‘Seat Sensor’ technology which uses beams to locate free seats on the train. Passengers can see them by accessing the onboard wifi portal and selecting ‘find an empty seat’ five minutes after the train has left a station.
LNER took over operation of the East coast mainline between London and Scotland from Virgin Trains East Coast earlier this year.
In 2016, an ongoing row began between Virgin Trains East Coast and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who released a video of himself sitting on a carriage floor to highlight overcrowding on Britain’s trains. Virgin argued the footage was misleading as there had been seats on that particular service.
Suzanne Donnelly, Commercial Director at LNER, said:
“We know some of our customers can become anxious when they are trying to find a seat, whether they are asking for their reserved seat back from another passenger or struggling to find an available unreserved space.
“The innovative Seat Sensor technology addresses this by making it much easier for all of our customers to find a seat. We hope this improves their overall journey experience.”