From Railway Mercury and News
In order to ease concourse congestion at London's Paddington station, train operator First Great Western and station manager Network Rail will switch from labelling reserved seats on long distance expresses to labelling unreserved seats. Unreserved passengers wishing to sit will be asked to look for a seat with a green label, indicating the seat to be available for general use. "At busy times, up to three quarters of the seats on a train can be reserved. This change will significantly reduce the preparation time" said a spokesman for First Great Western "and by getting people onto trains earlier we will significantly improve the passenger's experience. This new system will also save on specialised printing, and allow us to sell reservations on the concourse until 30 minutes before a train's departure"
The new system, which is to be introduced experimentally on 8th April for services travelling beyond Exeter, Bristol and Cardiff on Thursdays to Sundays after 15:00 (3 p.m.), will ensure that a higher proportion of vulnerable travellers are seated. Under the current system the elderly, those with heavy luggage, medical conditions that reduce their fitness or pregnancy, and the occastional traveller too, are often left behind in the last minute stampede to board; they then have to stand to Reading or beyond. Surveys show that these vulnerable travellers arrive at Paddington on average 11.5 minutes earlier than robust passengers. During this experiment, the buffet cars on the effected trains will be open from the start of boarding to allow passengers to obtain refreshments prior to departure.