First class train seats could be given over to standard passengers

The number of first class seats on trains could be hugely reduced as part of a new government initiative headed up by transport secretary Patrick McLaughlin.

Under the new proposals, government would work alongside rail operators to provide them with a subsidy that would reimburse any potential earnings lost by turning first class over to those with standard tickets, telegraph.co.uk reports.

The measure comes after commuters complained they were packed onto trains and made to stand whilst seats in first class went unused. It is hoped the subsidy plan would redress the balance and ease congestion on some of the more popular routes; most notably those going in and out of London.

McLaughlin spoke with representatives from First Great Western, which is expected to run a trial of the scheme before it is considered for a much wider roll-out.

Whilst some commuters have welcomed the move, those travelling in and out of London on business trips could fear that the privacy their more expensive ticket affords could soon be withdrawn.

The government, meanwhile, has urged people against reading too much into the scheme, claiming it is just one of a large number of proposals currently under consideration.

Commenting further, rail minister Stephen Hammond told buyingbusinesstravel.com: “The government understands concerns rail passengers have about the cost of fares and the impact they have on household budgets.

“That is why, for the first time in a decade, regulated fares will not rise on average by more than the rate of inflation, offering relief for families and the hard-working people. As well as protecting regulated fares, the government is driving forwards the biggest programme of rail modernisation programmes ever, with £38 billion being invested over the next five years.”