Split ticketing and reservations

When it comes to split ticketing, where you have multiple train tickets for the legs of your journey rather than a single, more conventional ‘through’ ticket it’s not surprising that some of the most frequently raised queries relate to seat reservations.

Several UK train companies including South Western Railway, West Midland Railway/London Northwestern Railway and Northern Rail don’t actually issue numbered seat reservations to anybody on any of their train services and may only offer a counted place seat coupon instead. Similarly at times when the train is likely to be crowded many of the train companies that do offer seat reservations may choose to declassify the train so that it’s not possible to reserve seats.

That said whilst seat reservations can never be guaranteed, wherever availability permits websites like trainsplit.com will always attempt to assign seat reservations at the time of booking, taking into account any seating preferences specified during the booking process. If seats are successfully reserved all the details will be shown on the confirmation email and separate seat reservation tickets stating the time of the train will be printed alongside the travel tickets

In instances where you’re travelling on a direct train but you’ve been issued with multiple tickets as it’s cheaper to split the tickets at points where the train calls along your route, there’s always a risk that you may be allocated seats in a different part of the train for different sections of the trip rather than one, although we’ll do our best to avoid this if at all possible

The problem is all down to limitations in the seat booking system and if you find yourself in this situation rather than playing musical chairs, it’s perfectly fine to disregard the seat reservations you’ve been given and sit elsewhere as long as you don’t occupy a seat that has been reserved for another passenger. Technically the guard may ask you to move to the seat that’s reserved for you but in practice this happens very rarely.

Train services will usually have an unreserved carriage for people who purchase their train tickets on the day and so it may be easier to find a seat there for the entire journey. Alternatively the ticket office at the station may be able to offer a through reservation provided you produce a valid combination of tickets for the whole journey.