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Railway law settles argument over woman who refused to give up train seat to elderly lady

Daisy Phillipson

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Railway law settles argument over woman who refused to give up train seat to elderly lady

A woman who refused to give up her train seat for an elderly lady has sparked a lively debate online.

While most people praised the passenger for standing her ground, it still left people questioning whether or not she broke any rules.

But it looks like the idea can be put to bed, as a railway law has come into focus that settles the argument for good.

Before we get into it, let's refresh your memory - last week, Redditor u/Optimal_Promotion879 took to the site's 'Am I the A**hole' forum to explain what happened on the seven-hour train journey from London to Aberdeen.

After booking a space in advance, she was given a 'priority seat' on boarding.

The woman paid extra for a first class seat. Credit: Kathy deWitt/Alamy Stock Photo
The woman paid extra for a first class seat. Credit: Kathy deWitt/Alamy Stock Photo

For those unfamiliar, priority seats are situated at the start and end of each carriage and are designed for people with mobility issues.

She went on to explain that she paid for the more expensive first class seat because she knew it was a long journey and wanted to use the time to do some work.

Though these can be expensive, the passenger decided to treat herself as she was returning from a two-week-long business trip abroad and knew she'd be exhausted.

She also wanted to get work done and needed the space to do so.

However, shortly after boarding the train, the woman was confronted by an elderly lady who pointed at the 'priority seat' sign and asked her to move.

When she refused, the woman told her that she was elderly and therefore had a greater need for the seat.

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"I told her I'd booked the seat and she'd need to speak to a member of staff to find her one," the woman explained.

"She pointed out that the train was full and there were no other seats. I apologised but reiterated that I'd booked the seat and wasn't going to move.

"Eventually, a train guard came over to try to help. The lady had booked a return ticket, but she hadn't reserved a specific seat.

"For those who don't know how trains work, if you have a ticket but haven't also booked a seat reservation, it means you can travel on a train, but you aren't guaranteed a seat unless there's one available."

The member of staff asked if either of the women would move to standard class for a seat, but the Redditor stood her ground.

While the woman wasn't sure whether she'd done the right thing, the online community were quick to jump to her defence, with some putting the blame on the railway company.

And it looks like she was legally in the right too, as a railway law states that no one is allowed to remain in a specific seat unless they have a valid ticket for it.

A railway law has settled the argument for good. Credit: Peter Lane/Alamy Stock Photo
A railway law has settled the argument for good. Credit: Peter Lane/Alamy Stock Photo

According to the government website on railway byelaws: "Except with permission from an authorised person, no person shall remain in any seat, berth or any part of a train where a notice indicates that it is reserved for a specified ticket holder or holders of tickets of a specific class, except the holder of a valid ticket entitling him to be in that particular place."

So although the woman was in a 'priority seat', she had a valid ticket entitling her to the space, meaning she was not obligated to move.

And with so many people in support of her actions, it looks like the Redditor is well and truly off the hook.

Featured Image Credit: UK Stock Images Ltd/Mickey Lee/Alamy

Topics: Travel, UK News, Reddit, Viral

Daisy Phillipson
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