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Reserved seating on Scotrail.

Having never used the train system in Scotland I have a few questions. Looking at train travel from Edinburgh to Sterling to Inverness, then from Fort William back to either Edinburgh or Glasgow.
I see from their website that seats can be reserved on certain Scotrail tickets. Questions are: Whats the difference between: forward/airplane seating? I really have to sit facing direction the train is travelling.
Also, are the luggage racks and restrooms near each other in the cars? I will be travelling solo with no one to "keep a eye" on my luggage if I need restroom break. Thanks for any tips.

Posted by
1774 posts

Airplane seating is two seats side-by-side, either forward or backwards facing.

Forward-facing seating could be two seats side-by-side (airplane style), or a group of four seats around a table, two forward and two backward facing.

Luggage racks are above the seats, or at the end of carriages. Not every carriage has a toilet.

Posted by
1151 posts

Does Scotrail have a dining car? Do they have a lounge car? Amtrak has reserved seats, but we learned from fellow travelers from Australia to stake out a 2 bench table in the lounge car with them. Bonus: bigger view windows...just have some snacks and some brews...so that you are real patrons and in slack time so that others are not waiting for services. If they have a real dining car...splurge for a meal with a view. As far as luggage? Maybe they have a security system; or you could find some one that looks reliable to watch your stuff while you dine, etc. They may have a snack cart or you could bring your own sandwich like we did for lunch.

Posted by
24641 posts

Does Scotrail have a dining car? Do they have a lounge car?

No

No

Some trains have first class section in Scotland, many don't.

Posted by
1249 posts

Reservations are not possible on the Glasgow commuter trains, are available on the long distance lines, and advisable on lines like the West Highland Line.

On the long distance lines there may be a trolley selling tea, coffee, soft drinks and snacks.

The Caledonian Sleeper does have dining and lounge cars, but you would need to be up very early or late at night to take advantage. The route from Fort William will only take you into Glasgow, you can change to commuter trains from Helensburgh on that will take you on to Edinburgh but probably best to change at Glasgow Queen Street. Though you could change at Dalmuir for the Glasgow urban belt enjoyment.

Posted by
9074 posts

I have taken numerous trains in Scotland. On some routes, when you purchase your ticket, you can request a certain type of seat--forward or rear facing, aisle or window, near luggage rack, near toilet, quiet car, etc. But it's not guaranteed and as stated many trains are open seating.

And just because you have a seat reservation doesn' mean you get that seat. A couple of years ago, I had a seat reservation on the Glasgow to Fort William train. Just before boarding they announced all seat reservations were cancelled and it was now open seating.

If your luggage is carry on, the luggage rack above your seat should manage. As for what do you do with your luggage if nature calls....well, I put the question to the Man in Seat 61 and he said, leave your luggage but take your valuables. (I take my personal item with my electronics, prescription meds, and any other valuables where I go on the train. My main bag stays above the seat.)

Posted by
17881 posts

Frank's post has reminded me that I had a couple of seat reservations go by the wayside in Scotland last year. I didn't have a problem finding a seat, but that was a high percentage of canceled seats, because I don't think I had more than 5 trains with reserved seats--maybe as few as 3.

Posted by
14 posts

Thanks everyone for the info. I would be travelling mid morning to early afternoon so should miss the commuters. I'm thinking now to reserve a forward seat in the "quiet" car, near toilet. Maybe not so crowded and my reserved seat would be available. Now if the train engine doesn't switch to the opposite end and make my forward seat backwards! Or maybe, I'll just drive...
Thanks again.

Posted by
6056 posts

You are not forced to sit in your reserved seat. If there is a better one without a reservation just move to it.
On many intercity journeys in the U.K. a seat is automatically booked on a train when you buy a ticket. But many tickets are flexible so you can travel on other trains. That means there are often seats reserved for people who aren’t going to turn up. You can therefore sit in those as well.
For example, if the seat is reserved from Birmingham to CRewe and 5 min after you have left Birmingham no one has claimed it, it’s basically up for grabs. Similarly if a seat is reserved for only part of a journey you can sit in it for the part that isn’t covered. Just be prepared to move when the passenger who’s seat it is gets on.

Posted by
24641 posts

most trains will have the engine under each car. No locomotive. Unless they are electric where there are motors on all axles. The Driver sits in a little cab right at the end of the first and last car, the Conductor/Guard/Senior Conductor/Train Manager (title varies from line to line and company to company for the same job) has an office in the opposite cab at the other end of the train. Some long distance trains have the Guard in the train, often in coach C.

Sitting near the toilet is fine, but the seats immediately nearby will be reserved for disabled and wheelchair passengers if it is a universal toilet, and the door may not work properly on a small toilet, and the area around both can have an atmosphere. They are often near doors.

One, two, and three coach trains will probably only have one toilet. Four coaches may have one or two with one being a small toilet. Longer trains may have one every other coach or so, depending on the stock used on that line. Some is new, some isn't.

Regardless of what type of train it is when it gets to a dead-end station it will change ends. Trains don't reverse in like in Chicago.