Some Train Companies offer seat reservations on their trains to help make your journey more relaxed and comfortable. To find out which companies offer seat reservations please click here and check the page of the company you are travelling with. 

When can I make a reservation?

Reservations can normally be made well in advance, and remain available until two hours before the train starts its journey, or, for early morning trains, up to 1600 the previous evening. Please remember that at busy times (weekends, holiday periods) all seats can quickly be booked.

Where can I make a reservation?

Seat reservations are normally free of charge if made at the same time you buy your ticket. They can be made at stations, Rail Appointed Travel Agents, and if you are buying your ticket at the same time, over the phone or on the Internet. Telesales phone numbers are listed on our Train Companies page.

When are reservations compulsory?

  • On some routes around Bank Holidays. Sometimes you can only join a train if you hold a reservation or boarding pass. Customers are advised to reserve seats as early as possible. 
  • When travelling on overnight sleeper services.
  • When travelling with an Advance ticket.  

Seating preferences

When making a reservation, you may be offered a number of seating  options, depending on the type of train you are travelling on:

  • Seat position: choose a seat by the window, aisle, or in First Class, an individual seat

  • Direction of travel: A choice of a forward, backing or airline style seat. On some routes trains reverse direction several times, and to avoid confusion, all seats are shown as Airline whether they are arranged around a table or in "airline" style.

  • Quiet Coach: If you choose a seat in this coach you are asked to not use your mobile phone, use electrical equipment in silent mode, ensure music cannot be heard by other passengers, and generally to keep noise levels to a minimum. 

What kind of seat has been reserved for me?

A reservation ticket will show the coach letter and seat number, along with a direction indicator e.g. Coach D Seat 17F

The F after the number indicates a seat that would be facing the direction of travel when the train started its journey. The B here would indicate a seat that would be backwards to the direction of travel when the train started its journey, and an A a seat with an unspecified direction. There would only be one seat with this number in the carriage, and it may be "airline" style. 

Take care not to confuse the Forward, Backing or Airline indicator with coach F, B or A.

How do I find my seat?

  • Look for the coach letter on the outside of the train. This will save you from having to walk the length of the train when on board
  • Look for your seat number. Seats numbering starts from one end of the coach and finishes at the other.

The seat reservation will either be placed:

  • in the reservation slot at the top of your seat
  • on a overhead electronic display.  

Advance tickets

Advance tickets are issued with reservation tickets and these must be carried when travelling. If the Train Compay does not offer seat reservations on the train you are travelling on, the reservation ticket will specify the date and time of travel. In these cases you may sit in any available seat on the specified train, appropriate to the class of your ticket.  

Reservations for children

Seats may be reserved for children, but for a child under 5 years of age a seat may be reserved only if an appropriate child rail ticket is held.

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Last updated:   31 May 2020