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Passengers on packed train with bags on seats ‘named and shamed’

Passengers on a packed train who placed their bags on the seats next to them were “named and shamed” by the on-board guard by having their seat numbers called out over the train’s tannoy.

The public shaming came on an overcrowded service to the West Country on Friday where a number of passengers were forced to stand while others took up empty seats with their luggage.

Jonn Elledge, a journalist who was on board, posted about the incident on the Great Western Railway service: “The train manager on this service is so angry with people having bags on their seats on a busy service that he’s started reading out the affected seat numbers to name and shame,” he said.

“It’s a train to the West Country on a hot day and it’s so crowded they can’t bring the drinks trolley through the aisles, so safe to say the majority of passengers are on board with this.”

The incident came after The Telegraph revealed on Thursday that train guards have resorted to making fake threats to fine passengers who put their luggage on empty seats.

Rail operators say staff are “empowered” to ask people to remove luggage from seats, with some guards telling passengers they will issue fines if they refuse, even though train firms do not routinely enforce such fees.

Firms have existing powers to restrict passengers to three pieces of luggage under the National Rail Conditions of Travel, under which all train companies operate.

Crowded services

National Rail guidelines state that rail operators can levy an additional luggage charge on people who bring more than three pieces on board or if excess bags occupy seats needed for passenger use. However, some rail firms find that just the threat of a fine is enough to deter passengers.

Some guards have issued warnings to passengers using an extra seat for their luggage in an attempt to free up much-needed space on crowded services.

Mr Elledge, the author of A History of the World in 47 Borders, said the train manager’s naming and shaming gesture appeared to have struck a chord with many on the train.

A fellow passenger posted on X, formerly Twitter, that she had heard the announcement: “Guy ultra politely asked the woman opposite three times to move her bag, because the train was rammed.

“She turned her head away and wouldn’t engage, so he sat on her bag. A subtle soft noise came from it. The woman, furious, said…there’s a cake in there.”

Mr Elledge replied: “Well she should have moved it then shouldn’t she!”

Another passenger, called Rowena, said: “I have been known to politely say ‘do you want to move this or shall I sit on it?’ Never had to do so! I’m super impressed.”

Great Western Railway, which runs routes to the West Country and South Wales, has said its guards were known for using humour to make more serious points.

A GWR spokesman said: “There’s no such thing as a fine for bags on seats. Train managers do tend to find a bit of light humour is a pretty effective way of highlighting the issue and encouraging people to stow luggage more thoughtfully.

“[While] there’s no ban on bags on seats, in terms of busy services our on-board staff are empowered to manage their train safely and efficiently. This may include asking people to pay due regard to their fellow passengers and remove any luggage from seats to allow others to sit.”

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