Most trains now have seating, marked as ‘priority’, which is intended for those passengers in greatest need of a seat: for instance, people with a disability, older passengers, expectant mothers or those carrying infants; or those with a broken limb. It is a legal requirement to provide these seats in new trains. Purpose-built priority seats are located close to doors, are more easily accessible than some other seats and provide space beneath them for an assistance dog.
You can book priority seats for many longer-distance journeys. On many suburban trains and those making shorter journeys often no seats are reservable.
A priority seat can be used by any passenger, but should be given up if needed by another with greater need. However, the law does not require other passengers to give up priority seats and staff have no legal power to move them – unless you have a specific seat reservation for that seat.
Reserved priority seats are intended for the person holding a valid reservation for it.
Priority seats are indicated by pictograms such as:
usually accompanied by the wording “priority seats”.
Priority seats are also provided at some stations – on platforms and in waiting rooms. The same arrangements apply as on trains.
In some cases on-train staff may use their discretion to allow you a first-class seat if all the standard-class seats are taken. This is not, though, an automatic right.