I was travelling on an East Midlands train from Nottingham to Norwich. This train stops at Grantham. The previous train to Grantham was cancelled, so the train was very crowded.

I had a seat reservation. Despite this, a woman was sitting in my seat, and refused to move. She claimed that because the previous train to Grantham was cancelled, she is entitled to keep her seat reservation on this train, and I can claim my money back because my seat was unavailable. I was not going to argue with her, so allowed her to stay there.

Who was right?

  • Yes, technically you were correct. But bear in mind that this woman's train was cancelled, so it's not like she did anything to deserve losing her seat either. In these situations, there are no winners.
    – MJeffryes
    Oct 29, 2017 at 14:57
  • I've been on trains that were so overcrowded they cancel all seat reservations: it's announced over the intercom, and it's cancelled for everyone. In extreme overcrowding they cancel first class as well, so anyone can sit (or more realistically stand, or more realistically still, wedge themselves with their head in someone's armpit) in any section with any ticket. They're supposed to repeat the announcement at each station but when it's like this the staff are usually so overworked they sometimes miss a station or two. Only happens when it's so full the corridors are full of people standing Oct 29, 2017 at 21:59

3 Answers 3


You were right. Her reserved seat was on the cancelled train.


In cases like this, you need to go fetch the conductor.

She knows her rights and knows that you cannot remove her from the seat bodily, so if she stays put, she keeps the seat and you go hungry. It was no risk to her to bet that you would not go get the conductor.

If you get the conductor, he can not only fetch guards to physically remove her, he can hold the train until she leaves (earning her the wrath of the whole car), and then kick her off the train and void her ticket. You bet she knows that, and would comply after a short and futile argument with the conductor.

When people are jerks, it's almost an imperative to challenge it. But how do you avoid being wrong and accidentally being the jerk? The answer is you seek the neutral expert moderator: the conductor.

  • 1
    To be fair to the woman, she is equally a victim of the TOC in this situation. It was just luck that meant that it was the train containing "her" seat which was cancelled, and not Tim's. I think even if the conductor had been called, they would probably not have done anything other than asking her to move. Forcing paying customers out of a seat, after cancelling their train, doesn't look good on the news.
    – MJeffryes
    Oct 29, 2017 at 14:54

The problem is, OP 'willingly' gave up his seat so East Midlands is kinda off the hook.

The conductor could have sorted this out onboard as it was OP's seat. The other passenger was in the wrong seat.

It's really no different that switching seats on an airplane, then complaining after the fact. East Midlands was not given the opportunity to correct the situation when they could have actually done so.

  • 1
    There was no conductor that I saw. My ticket was not looked at. I’m not sure if I gave it up willingly or not. I just didn’t want to cause a scene.
    – Tim
    Oct 27, 2017 at 21:58
  • 2
    @Tim There were certainly Conductors on board, maybe not right in that carriage at that moment. Next time, just find or wait for one and they can resolve the situation.
    – DTRT
    Oct 28, 2017 at 11:42
  • 1
    as stated, it was only 2 carriages. I did not see one during my 60 minute journey. Perhaps they stayed in the other carriage, that seems strange.
    – Tim
    Oct 28, 2017 at 11:42
  • It's not like airplane seats at all! Airplanes are not allowed to take off with standees. Trains are. OP is not whining about being moved from 21C to 31D. He's complaining about being made to stand for an hour. Oct 28, 2017 at 16:34
  • 5
    In my experience, train crew often don't come through "relief" trains like this one, partly because of overcrowding blocking the aisles, and partly because it's full of angry people who've had their journey disrupted, some of whom are all too willing to take it out on the (blameless) conductor. So I find it quite credible that no TOC personnel walked the train at any point during the entire journey, which (to my mind) does relieve the OP from any charge that (s)he failed to give the TOC "the opportunity to correct the situation when they could have actually done so".
    – MadHatter
    Oct 29, 2017 at 7:01

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .