• British Railways Seat Reservations

  • Discussion about railroad topics everywhere outside of North America.
Discussion about railroad topics everywhere outside of North America.

Moderators: Komachi, David Benton

  by ExCon90
There's a discussion going on under Amtrak about fixed seats half facing in one direction and the other half facing opposite. In Britain for many decades the practice was for opposing seats in a compartment to have the same number, with the reservation ticket indicating "facing engine" or "back to engine"; in that way it didn't matter how the car was marshaled in the train. (I know of no Continental railways that did that.) Later, as emus and push-pull operation increasingly displaced locomotive-hauled trains, the terminology was changed to read "direction of travel" instead of "engine." How did that work on trains to Scotland and the North of England from the South Coast, reversing at Reading? Could one book a seat from (say) Reading to Newcastle, and if the reservation read "facing" did that mean facing from the train's origin (Bournemouth or Penzance) or the passenger's boarding station? Just wondering ...
  by ExCon90
It has since occurred to me that at the time I was talking about it might have been possible to reserve seats from only the origin point of the train; i.e., you couldn't reserve a seat out of Plymouth on a train that started from Penzance. If that was the case, I guess the situation wouldn't arise.
  by Gilbert B Norman
Just think Mr. Ex Con, "back in my day", or when I first visited the UK during '60, it was all done either by telephone or standing at the "wicket" - and all by hand.

On my journeys to Salzburg (I'm going again come August), I always reserve a 2nd Class seat going from Munich Ost to Salzburg. It's never what I would have selected myself, as it seems to be aisle, backwards, and Engineer (whoops Driver over there) side. Funny how I would prefer the opposite on all points.

Any other joyrides I take on days I'm not attending a concert, I "just take my chances". This year, I think I'll go to Bolzano (ride over the Brenner Pass, set foot in Italy which I last did during '71), and to Munich where I've never set foot beyond the Airport since '60.
  by ExCon90
Mr. Norman, Bolzano itself is worth a visit; the Hotel Grifone/Greif (The Griffin), visible from the station, has an excellent restaurant (or had some 20 years ago) if you have time for lunch, and there's an interesting interurban along the top of the ridge above the city from Soprabolzano/Oberbozen to Collalbo/Klobenstein dating from before World War I. The Austrian influence from the time of Franz Josef is still very strong. In any case the train trip over the Brenner is well worth it.
  by Gilbert B Norman
Mr. ExCon, on "the family trip to Europe" during '60, we did go over the Brenner Pass in "the Bennie" picked up in Stuttgart. When compared with the Grossglockner, it didn't seem "all that much". Wasn't the Brenner where Hannibal moved elephants over such as part of his Northern conquests?

On that trip, we stayed in Merano - another Tyrol town.

One could say that the OBB is "robbing" their passengers of their most scenic views with the tunneling under Semmering Pass (between Graz and Vienna), the tunneling to access Innsbruck, that entering Vienna (just a cut and cover and not any scenery to speak of missed; eliminating a backup move), and now the Brenner. But then, like all European railroads, the OBB provides "transportation", and considering they have no "true" HSR, they do mighty well at it.

But, all told, and mainly from "the family trip" (which the sooner it was over, the happier this 19yo kid was), in the Tyrol, even if the map said you were in Italy, you were still in Austria as you note. Likewise, in Switzerland, be South of the Gotthard Pass (now tunnel) in Lugano, yopu could just as well be in Italy!!