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Seat availability

When travelling long distances, we know that most Grand Central customers prefer to be seated. Each of our Class 180 Adelante trains contains the following:

  • 226 standard class seats in coaches B, C, D and F
  • 42 First class seats in coach E

On some services, we may be carrying more passengers than there are available seats, meaning those without seat reservations may have to stand for their journey.

How do I reserve a seat on Grand Central?

When you book an Advance ticket, not only are you getting the best value for money on your train fare, you are also guaranteeing yourself a seat on one of our trains. Advance tickets are tied to specific seats on specific trains, meaning we cannot sell more of these than there are seats on the train. These tickets can be purchased in some cases up to two hours before the train departs but more usually up until the day before travel.

If you have purchased a flexible off-peak or anytime ticket, this allows you to get on any Grand Central train within the validity period specified on the ticket. Due to their flexibility, these tickets are more expensive, and also do not come with a guaranteed seat on the train. However, seats on any Grand Central train can be booked either at any manned ticket office or by speaking to our Customer Relations team on 0345 603 4852 (subject to availability).

Why can't I book a seat on a service?

On very busy services, it's possible that all reservable seats may have been reserved already, and Advance tickets are no longer available. In this situation, if you wish to travel on a specific service you will need to purchase a flexible off-peak or anytime ticket, valid for any Grand Central train that day. As all customers with these tickets can get on any Grand Central train, and certain times will always be more busy than others, this can lead to more passengers boarding the train than there are seats. As a result, off-peak and anytime tickets do not necessarily guarantee you a seat.

As part of the National Rail Conditions of Travel, set by the Department for Transport, train operators are obligated to carry all passengers with valid tickets, regardless of actual train capacity.

How can I make sure I get a seat?

The best way to guarantee you get a seat on your journey is to book in Advance. Tickets are usually available for purchase up to 12 weeks before the date of travel, and buying early can also save you up to 84% versus the cost of buying on the day of travel. Be aware that these tickets are limited in number and can sell out, meaning there will be no reservable seats left on the train.

Depending on the service, we will set aside a number of seats on each train which are not reservable, in order to provide for passengers travelling on flexible tickets, however these are limited in number.

Which trains are less busy?

We regularly publish schedules showing which of our services you are most likely to get a seat on if you are travelling on a flexible ticket. These are put on our social media channels at Twitter and Facebook and provide information on how busy services are at weekends and over holiday periods. They are regularly updated and are designed to be easy to read and interpret.

Please note that, while the design below is used most weekends, during periods of high traffic such as Bank Holidays or sporting fixtures, we may use a slightly different layout, with times being located horizontally and days of the week being vertical, with no visual information on number of carriages.

Each route is shown as follows:

Seat availabilit diagram

  • Date: What day the information is valid for
  • Services from: Which route this information relates to
  • Dep: The departure time of each train - this applies to its original station (Bradford Interchange, Sunderland or London Kings Cross)
  • Number of carriages: How many carriages this train will use - this is 5 by default.
  • Seat availability: A traffic-light system showing how busy a train is expected to be:
    • Green: This service has many unreserved seats, allowing plenty of passengers to be seated
    • Yellow: This service has a few unreserved seats remaining
    • Red: This service has few or no unreserved seats left - if you do not have a reservation for it, you may have to stand