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Unread 19-08-2009, 08:13   #1
Mark Gleeson
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Default [article] Seat Reservations Go Wrong?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Irish Times/Conor Pope
Pricewatch Daily

Irish Rail has been offering some bargain online fares, but the seat-reservation system has disgruntled some passengers, writes CONOR POPE


Like or loathe Irish Rail, it has been running some exceptionally good value-for-money online offers over the course of the summer, with one-way tickets on all intercity routes costing just €10.

The company clearly wants to encourage more automated online bookings in order to reduce staff numbers selling actual tickets in stations. A second carrot being offered to rail users who book online is a relatively new seat-reservation system that is supposed to allow people to book ahead and show up at the last minute, safe in the knowledge that a seat will be waiting for them. If only.

Across continental Europe rail-reservations systems work pretty well, but in Ireland, when you book ahead – particularly at peak times on the most popular routes – there’s every chance that instead of finding an empty seat with your name on it, you will be confronted by a large, red-faced, cider-swilling man playing 21 with his buddies and no sign of an Irish Rail employee to move him along.

A number of readers have contacted us in recent weeks to tell us of furious seat-allocation rows breaking out in carriages as the solitary Irish Rail employee on board skulks as far away from the action as possible.

Mark Gleeson of the Rail Users Action Group says the absence of real people to police the reservation system “when you actually get on the train is letting people down. Onboard staff do not want to challenge anyone sitting in seats which are reserved for others – that is if you are lucky enough to find a staff member on the trains. From what I can see, as a result of cutbacks, the staff who are supposed to ensure everything works smoothly have been pulled off the trains.”

He claims that the Cork-Dublin route is the only one with a dedicated “train host” whose job is to manage the reservation system, and travellers using other trains on the intercity network have to police the system.

Irish Rail spokesman Barry Kenny admits that “it wouldn’t be the case that there will always be someone on hand” to assist someone with a reserved seat because “we have to take account of the cost environment”. He hopes that a more mature passenger body, as they grow familiar with the reservation system, might be able to look after themselves.

Kenny’s optimism is difficult to understand, says Gleeson, particularly when the technology is frequently found wanting. “The seat-reservation system assumes the train you’re travelling on actually has the seat you have booked,” he says. “So let’s say you book seat number 67 but the train you were due to take breaks down and the carriage in the substitute only has 58 seats, that leaves you without a seat and no one to help you out.”

Kenny accepts that when trains are replaced at the last minute, reservation numbers often don’t match the seat numbers, but he insists that this is a rare occurrence and maintains that staff members will be on hand to help people find alternate seats. “It is not a perfect arrangement, I accept that, but it does work well in most circumstances.”
© 2009 Irish Times

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/...252863403.html
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Unread 19-08-2009, 10:39   #2
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I booked a return to Galway a few Fridays ago: down on the 0710 and back up on the 1805. As the latter tends to be full I was glad to avail of the online seat reservation feature. However on neither leg of the journey was the seat reservation illuminated, and a good job I brought the printout of the reservation with me.

On the 0710 the carriages and destination were not identified, causing some confusion to passengers given that there was an identical train to Waterford on the neighbouring platform, and there had been a platfrom change about 15minutes prior to departure.

So should I generalise from my sample of 2 and assume that they cannot be bothered to programme the onboard reservation system properly?
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Unread 19-08-2009, 10:54   #3
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It works most of the time on Dublin-Cork, and about half the time (primarily northbound services) on the Enterprise.
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Unread 19-08-2009, 16:37   #4
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In Germany the seat reservations somtimes aren't on in carraiges. From my experience as soon as someone shows up with a reservation for a given seat the person occupying the seat vacates it without question. This maybe because you must pay for seat reservations.
When someone in Ireland cant get their reserved seat perhaps they should bear in mind that its not only IE that are at fault and offending passengers should perhaps also shoulder some responsiblity.

Last edited by ccos : 19-08-2009 at 16:40.
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Unread 19-08-2009, 18:41   #5
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But if the passenger is sitting in a seat which has no notice that it is reserved, what do you do.

It is Irish Rail's obligation to mark which seats are reserved, if the fancy computer dies old fashioned manual cards can be used.
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Unread 19-08-2009, 19:23   #6
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Look, it is quite clear that IÉ do not want to run a proper advance seat booking service. So, to save everyone hassle in the future, this service should be fully withdrawn.

Yet another reason why IÉ should be scrapped and replace a company who are willing to run a rail network properly.
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Unread 21-08-2009, 08:43   #7
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More from the Irish Times

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/...253014173.html

Irish Rail still haven't learned its lesson, http://www.railusers.ie/forum/showth...ht=reservation

http://www.railusers.ie/passenger_issues/seat_res.php
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Unread 22-08-2009, 16:23   #8
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Is there something about the staff in Galway that they refuse to operate the electronic system for seat booking? Every single day they put the old printed tickets on the seats. I have not seen the system used properly ever on the Galway-Dublin direction while routinely it is used on the Dublin - Galway.

There was one or two mornings on the 0710 where the seat reservation system was turned on very late when people were already seated. To tell you the truth, if I get on the train at 0708 and I sit on a seat which is unreserved, I am not going to move if it is switched on at 0709.

I think it is a change management issue with staff and passengers not embracing change.
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Unread 28-08-2009, 21:50   #9
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I´m not condoning IE for not bothering to put up the reservations in the first place, I'm just saying what I see happen in other countries when the reservation system fails.
IMHO good manners dictate you vacate a seat for which someone else holds a ticket for, just like on a plane or in Croke park.
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