Reserved seating to be tested on NEC

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Re: Reserved seating to be tested on NEC

Postby Tadman » Wed Jan 31, 2018 11:10 pm

Basically Jim has it.

If you can put car/room numbers on a ticket for sleeper, you can put car/seat numbers on a coach ticket.

Also, worth noting, many European tickets have seat/car numbers AND track/platform numbers. As well as diagrams on each platform of the trains that serve that platform.

No joke, in Germany, lots of stations are 4-track, 2-platform. Outers are express, inners are local. Most larger cities have 12+ track terminals or through stations. In all of them, they know months in advance where the train is going. Because of that, each platform has a pictogram of an ICE or regional train with the car numbers.

I'm sure this is hard to do in the US at larger stations because trains vary in OTP so much that the station master has to be creative. When NYP has 14 LD trains and 20+ off-NEC corridor trains at the mercy of CSX et al... you can't count on Train X to arrive on platform Y at 1423 every day.
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Re: Reserved seating to be tested on NEC

Postby Greg Moore » Wed Jan 31, 2018 11:31 pm

mtuandrew wrote:If Megabus can handle reserved seating, so can Amtrak. As for car number, why not have the ticket printed “car 1, seat 1A” through “car 8, seat 15d”? The number only needs to be based on the position from the locomotive, not the actual car number as assigned by Amtrak.


Because I can guarantee most folks don't keep track of how many cares are on the train, let alone how far they are from the engine.
It's a bit easier with fixed consists like the Acela that already are clearly marked for things like first class.
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Re: Reserved seating to be tested on NEC

Postby Greg Moore » Wed Jan 31, 2018 11:39 pm

JimBoylan wrote:Institutional Memory is needed here.
Amtrak still does this today with Sleeping Cars. Locations in the train are not known for sure until the train is made up in the yards, and then this information (the consist) is put into Amtrak's computer, so that station personnel down the line can make proper announcements about the platform location for various cars. For some stations, there are timetable or other instructions about where the engineer must stop his train, and how he must vary that stopping place based on the number of locomotives and head end (non passenger) cars. If you are boarding at an unstaffed station, you might call Amttrak, ask Jullie for an Agent, and ask that the consist for that train be pulled up so that you can be told where your car is in the train, and wait on the proper end of the platform.


You know, I hear this a lot, but how often is this actually a problem? I mean Empire Service trains are pretty much always 5 or 6 cars and as far as I know, it's pretty much always the same trains that are 5 or 6. Same with most NEC trains (I think 7 is the most typical number?).

Yeah, I mean you can get a bad-ordered car, but how common is that on the NEC?
And perhaps what you do is something like one coach is always "unreserved" and it's at one end of the train. So if you have to bad-order any car (other than say business class) you don't really mess up any reserved passengers. (since you simply remove a car and the "unreserved" becomes one of the reserved car. Then you real with the "unreserved" passengers best you can. (perhaps leave 10% of each car unreserved")
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Re: Reserved seating to be tested on NEC

Postby gprimr1 » Wed Jan 31, 2018 11:59 pm

I could see this potentially working like the bullet trains in Japan with some cars reserved and some cars non-reserved.

It'll be interesting to see how this plays out in places like NYP with limited platform access and space.
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Re: Reserved seating to be tested on NEC

Postby David Benton » Thu Feb 01, 2018 12:13 am

The "where to stand on the platform" problem is probably the biggest cause for extended dwell time. As far as I can tell it seems to be a worldwide problem.( sounds like Germany is an exception). Even in little old NZ, once you get out of the cities, passengers are waiting any old where, and wander over to where they first see a conductor appear off the train. They then decide they want to check their bag , so thats a walk up to the front of the train, and back to the car they will be sitting in . Meanwhile , you sit and watch your connection time slide by.
Cars used to have removable single letter sign by the door. Car A was always at the front of the train , then B , C etc . If you ended up standing between car B and C, and your car was D , you knew it was the next car towards the back. Why they couldn't paint the car letters on the platform , I do not know. It changes for the direction of travel , but an arrow would take care of that. It should be no problem with todays led signs etc.
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Re: Reserved seating to be tested on NEC

Postby hs3730 » Thu Feb 01, 2018 12:35 am

This could be a good or bad thing depending on how they implement it for online / ticket machine sales (where most sales are made). My two experiences with reserved seating on trains are at opposite ends of the spectrum.
Japan Limited Express trains - good: Tickets are sold in two ways - if you're in a hurry or don't care, you can pick "window" or "aisle" and the computer will find one for you. If you want to be picky, you can select the specific car and seat. As for sitting in the wrong seat, my buddy found the penalty out the hard way: he was charged another fare.

Australia XPT trains - bad: Seats are assigned sequentially. First guy to buy a ticket gets car 1 seat 1, second guy gets seat 2, etc. Whether you get window or aisle is entirely luck. This is similar to how Amtrak does sleeper assignments if you book through the website instead of an agent. Australia's system is extra annoying due to the seats being numbered rather than lettered; on one side of the train the odd numbers are window, on the other side the even numbers are. Trying to figure out whether that window seat is on the side that will be facing the sun for 6 hours is even more of a brain twister.

As for the "where to stand" problem, Amtrak has those "Location A / B / C / D" signs on the platforms already, they could probably be used for this.
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Re: Reserved seating to be tested on NEC

Postby JimBoylan » Thu Feb 01, 2018 12:42 am

Institutional memory again:
Railroads put reserved and unreserved seats in different cars or sections of cars, and you paid the conductor or attendant if you wanted to sit in an unsold reserved space.
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Re: Reserved seating to be tested on NEC

Postby mtuandrew » Thu Feb 01, 2018 1:54 am

Greg Moore wrote:Because I can guarantee most folks don't keep track of how many cares are on the train, let alone how far they are from the engine.
It's a bit easier with fixed consists like the Acela that already are clearly marked for things like first class.

True, but the ACs and Conductor are usually at the doors to shepherd people to the right place. I like the suggestion above of platform signage too.
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Re: Reserved seating to be tested on NEC

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Thu Feb 01, 2018 9:57 am

On my AAF joyride earlier this week, I wasn't particularly "in love" with their seat assignment system. If they really want to "do it up right", like I believe they are really trying to do, they should allow a passenger to select the seat; just as do the airlines other than at their "Econo-minus" rates. On my Northbound Coach ("Smart") ride, I was assigned to seat backwards on the asile with a party of three in a four place setee'. I just moved to a seat, still backward riding, but I still ended up with a headache. For the return in Business ("Select"), I was assigned forward riding, windowpane clear, and no headache.

AAF could even have a different fare level for those who choose to select their seats as opposed to "you get what you get".

All of that is simply too much sophistication for Amtrak.

(message X-posted over at FEC Brightline topic)
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Re: Reserved seating to be tested on NEC

Postby Tadman » Thu Feb 01, 2018 10:35 am

Mr. Norman, did you write a trip report? I don't recall seeing one, would like to read it.
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Re: Reserved seating to be tested on NEC

Postby EuroStar » Thu Feb 01, 2018 11:14 am

David Benton wrote:Cars used to have removable single letter sign by the door. Car A was always at the front of the train , then B , C etc . If you ended up standing between car B and C, and your car was D , you knew it was the next car towards the back. Why they couldn't paint the car letters on the platform , I do not know. It changes for the direction of travel , but an arrow would take care of that. It should be no problem with todays led signs etc.


Some places in Europe still use the removable signs. I have seen small signs with the numbers 1, 2 , 3 and so on from the engine backwards. The first class cars usually get letters A, B, C, and so on. Sometimes if the first class car is in the middle of the consist confusion ensues when people boarding car 4 and walking to the next car think that the next car is 5 when it is first class A followed by 5. I have also seen trains with first class cars only, but those are really rare. The convenience of the removable signs is that you can put them in order regardless of how the train is built in the yard and regardless of car substitutions due to bad orders -- as long as you get the correct total number of cars of each type you are ok. Some places have substituted the removable signs for electronic signs, but they are still 1,2,3,A, ... not the unique car numbers such as 7645,7634,...
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Re: Reserved seating to be tested on NEC

Postby flexliner » Thu Feb 01, 2018 11:26 am

seemed to work fine when i was in Italy recently

all intercity trains whether trenitalia or italorail allow online reservations and show the map
of the cars on the train and seats available for your price point
same is true when buying at an agent or at ticket window in station

and changes can be made based on availability....

(OK i do wonder what happens if a car is bad ordered or substituted
but i did not experience such and i will assume that they have enough cars of same class and layout that it would not matter.)

each car has a number on it coach one coach two starting at engine. (irregardless of the cars road number)
could be digital or even a cardboard in a window slot.
station announcements tell people where first class etc cars are ie behind engine or last

now suburban trains out of the main towns (ie cinque terre "express" or tren nord suburbans out of Milano)
are unreserved more like US commuter trains
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Re: Reserved seating to be tested on NEC

Postby BlendedBreak » Thu Feb 01, 2018 1:38 pm

This is wonderful news! Seats together for famolies, and finally a possible end to Conductors and other employees “riding” their friends.
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Re: Reserved seating to be tested on NEC

Postby Rockingham Racer » Thu Feb 01, 2018 2:54 pm

It should work okay if the platforms are long enough to accomodate a train in one, single stop. I think that applies to all stations on the NEC. When it comes to long distance trains, though, we all know that consists change in the winter time on many trains. That probably can't happen if this experiment moves over to the LD trains.
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Re: Reserved seating to be tested on NEC

Postby ExCon90 » Thu Feb 01, 2018 3:35 pm

All this back-and-forth about finding the proper car, etc.--In Western Europe they've been doing this for 50 years and it works fine. The car number for reservation purposes need have nothing to do with its position in the train or distance from the locomotive. As someone (Tadman?) pointed out above, in Germany and elsewhere there is a diagram on every platform showing where every car is in the train, and letters on the platform every 2 carlengths or so, which also appear on the diagram so that the passenger knows where his car is going to stop. On the PRR at 30th St. an announcement was made a few minutes before the train's arrival giving each car number (on reserved trains) and the lettered platform location at which it would stop. A teletyped message (today simply pulled up on the computer) gave the train announcer the necessary information to make these announcements, and wayside indicators told the engineer where to stop according to the number of passenger cars in the train. That's been going on since about 1933 and I believe continues on Amtrak. LA Metrolink has wayside signs reading "SPOT CAB" to place the ADA car at the ADA portion of the platform (necessary since train lengths vary). There's no reason why it can't be done here, but maybe if there's no will there's no way.
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