New system tracks empty train seats

You may want to sit down to hear this news! LNER, which runs trains between Lincoln and London, has launched new seat reservation technology on all of its trains to help customers find empty seats quicker and easier.

The world-first innovation Seat Sensor records the current and future status of a seat’s availability – green when a seat is unreserved for the whole journey, amber when it is reserved for part of the journey and a red light when it is reserved for the whole journey.

With the amber status, customers can check the screen above the seat which parts of the journey it is reserved for.

The seat finder tool can be used from the onboard Wifi pages to view a map of each coach and the seat status.

Customers’ train of thought

Research found that 64% of people deliberately linger near seated passengers just before the train pulls into a station, while over a third use a tactic known as “kestrelling”. Kestrelling is hovering over an apparently vacant seat to wait and see whether it’s free.

Walking up and down train carriages to search for an available seat, known as “coach patrol” is done by 30% of people, while 65% use the ping-pong tactic (frantically turn left and right to figure out which way to go to find a seat).

Being able to find available seats quicker and easier will also mean less potential for awkward conversations with fellow passengers. 56% have felt too awkward to ask another passenger to move out of their reserved seat or move bags off seats.

Over half of the nation (51%) would actually prefer to stand or look for an alternative seat than to ask a passenger to vacate their reserved seat.

Psychologist Donna Dawson said: “Brits put a premium on good manners in public and don’t want to become embroiled in any embarrassing scenes or come across to others as selfish and pushy.

“Developing ‘seat strategies’ is a way to avoid all of this, even if you have already booked your seat, and it is your personality type which will decide which strategies you employ!”