Seat reservations for UK trains

UK trains usually become available to book 12 weeks (84 days) in advance, when both tickets and seat reservations should be available. However, it is not always possible to make seat reservations when booking opens.

National Rail compiles a useful table showing how far in advance seat reservations are currently available.


Why aren't seat reservations available?

We will always try to reserve a seat free of charge for all UK train tickets. If you aren't offered a seat reservation, there are several possible explanations:

The train or journey does not offer seat reservations (this is common on shorter routes and local services).
The allocation of reservable seats is fully booked.
The train operator has not made seat reservations available - occasionally this happens due to timetable amendments or engineering works that have not been confirmed. Until the timetable is confirmed it may not be possible to make a seat reservation or buy Advance tickets (that include compulsory seat reservations).

If we can't get a seat reservation on a service that usually offers them, you will see a message on the Ticket Details page:

"Seat reservations aren't currently available on this train. If you require a seat reservation, please try again in a few days, or book now and obtain reservations at the station, subject to availability. If you choose to book, you can buy your tickets on Loco2, and then when you have collected the tickets you can take them to any UK ticket office and add seat reservations free of charge."

Can I travel without seat reservations?

Unless specified, your ticket is valid without reservations. You can sit in any vacant, unreserved seat for the appropriate class of travel for your journey.

Most train operators in the UK leave seats available for customers without reservations (there is usually at least one carriage with unreserved seating). If there aren't any seats available you may be required to stand for part of all of your journey.

Advance fares are only valid for the specific train you've booked. Whilst some Advance fares may not have a seat reservation, all reserve you on a specific train. It's therefore not possible to buy an Advance fare on Loco2 without a reservation on the train specified.

Off-peak fares are valid for any off-peak train on that day. However, your seat reservation is only valid for the specific departure time shown on your booking confirmation email. If you choose to travel on a different train you will not have a seat reservation. Fortunately, you can reserve seats from any National Rail ticket office free of charge. Simply show your tickets at the ticket office before you travel and staff will be able to issue you with reservations.

Can I travel book seat reservations separately?

It is not possible to book seat reservations online without buying a ticket at the same time.

If you have already purchased tickets, it is possible to make seat reservations, subject to availability, at the station. Simply present your tickets at the ticket office and if there are seats available on your preferred train they will be issued free of charge.

If you hold an Eurail or InterRail pass, see our article: Rail passes & seat reservations for more information.

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