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Is LNER the Ryanair of the rail? Train firm accused of ‘pretending to be a plane but more expensive’ after imposing three bag airline-style limit

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Rail passengers are being told they can only take one large suitcase and two bags on board trains as one of Britain’s main routes imposes airline-style luggage limits.

Customers using London North Eastern Railway (LNER) services between London and Edinburgh have seen signs on the network advising them of baggage allowances.

The operator is warning travellers they can have a maximum of one large suitcase, a carry-on bag and a small handbag – but is also urging them to ‘travel with less’.

While National Rail’s conditions of carriage issued in 2012 state that only three items are allowed on trains, it is rare to see an operator advising passengers of the rule.

But Government-run LNER is installing posters on its network to remind customers about limits during busier periods when there is less space, reported the Telegraph.

While LNER has put up similar signs in the past, the issue was brought to light this week by author Christopher Howse, who wrote 2013 book The Train in Spain.

Twitter user @emeraldlrutterr posted this picture of piled-up suitcases on board an LNER train from London King’s Cross to Edinburgh in June this year, claiming that a door opened at Peterborough station ‘causing suitcases to fall out towards a family with two young children’

Chris Smillie tweeted this photo in January this year, saying his daughter was travelling to Newcastle on the LNER. He added: 'My daughter is travelling to Newcastle on her own. On the first train the person in her booked seat did not move despite a polite request & her seat on the train from York is taken up with people¿s luggage. When ever was this acceptable?'

Chris Smillie tweeted this photo in January this year, saying his daughter was travelling to Newcastle on the LNER. He added: ‘My daughter is travelling to Newcastle on her own. On the first train the person in her booked seat did not move despite a polite request & her seat on the train from York is taken up with people’s luggage. When ever was this acceptable?’

Mr Howse tweeted a picture of a poster, saying: ‘Trains are pretending to be planes, but more expensive. Now it’s one piece of hand luggage and two bags on LNER.’

LNER rules for luggage allowances on its trains

Here are the full rules from LNER on what passengers are allowed to take on its trains:

Please note we only allow three items per person. A maximum of one large suitcase, a carry on bag and small handbag can be brought onboard.

Small bags

Small bags can fit under your seat (be careful to tuck it under well so you don’t trip if you need to get up).

Medium bags

Cabin-style bags should go above your seat in the overhead racks, keeping those personal items close at hand. There’s also space between some seats where you can stow smaller cases safely.

Large suitcases

Suitcases up to 80x57x30 fit nicely in the racks at the ends of the coaches – if your cases are bigger, you won’t be able to bring it onboard.

The maximum bag size on our trains is 90 x 70 x 30cm.

Very large bags

These may need to be placed in dedicated storage areas onboard. Please ask a member of our team for assistance.

Pushchairs and buggies

Pushchairs need to be folded and stored in the designated luggage area. 

Bikes onboard

If you’d like to carry a non-folding bike, you’ll need to make a reservation before you travel. 

It comes as LNER tries to cope with a huge spike in leisure travel following the pandemic, with 30 per cent more customers now travelling on its 956-mile network on Sundays than in 2019.

Passengers have tweeted photographs in recent months of suitcases stacked up against windows and along corridors on services as people struggle for space.

In an attempt to avoid such scenes at busy times, LNER allows suitcases up to 90cm by 70cm by 30cm, but says a size of 80cm by 57cm by 30cm will ‘fit nicely in the racks at the ends of the coaches’.

Very large bags may need to be placed in dedicated storage areas on board, while pushchairs need to be folded and stored in the designated luggage area. Those wanting to carry a non-folding bike need to make a reservation before they travel.

LNER warns that luggage might be refused on our trains if it ‘may cause injury, inconvenience or a nuisance or it may cause damage to property’.

Luggage will also be banned if ‘it’s going to obstruct doorways, gangways or corridors’ or if ‘there is not enough room for your luggage’.

In comparison, Ryanair’s bag policy is that everyone gets one small personal bag to take on board, but can then pay for more cabin bags for £6 to £38 and pay for check-in bags for £12 to £60. The costs vary depending on the time of booking, the flight dates and the route. 

A spokesman for transport watchdog London TravelWatch told MailOnline today: ‘Train travel must be accessible for everyone – it’s unacceptable when spaces reserved for wheelchairs or passengers with mobility issues are blocked with suitcases or oversized bags.

‘We know these conditions of travel have been in place for over a decade but it is important that train companies communicate any luggage restrictions clearly with passengers. Particularly if they are now having to enforce the rules more due to capacity issues.’

Former shadow transport secretary Norman Baker, from the Campaign for Better Transport, told MailOnline: ‘The idea of letting the private sector innovate is a good one, but bureaucratically this could be a nightmare to enforce.

‘That said, this is a sure sign of success that passenger numbers are on the rise.’

LNER passenger Ky Hodgson, from Durham, said in April 2022 that she had 'just been hit by someone¿s suitcase falling over because he stacked it on top of another suitcase stood up'. She added: 'Now the luggage racks look like this but at least I won¿t be hit again.'

LNER passenger Ky Hodgson, from Durham, said in April 2022 that she had ‘just been hit by someone’s suitcase falling over because he stacked it on top of another suitcase stood up’. She added: ‘Now the luggage racks look like this but at least I won’t be hit again.’

LNER passenger Steve Biggs tweeted in May 2022: 'Got very lucky to find some luggage space on the way to Edinburgh ¿ though the pram base didn¿t really fit. Even your train staff were taking photos of prams in the vestibules to prove that more storage space is needed'

LNER passenger Steve Biggs tweeted in May 2022: ‘Got very lucky to find some luggage space on the way to Edinburgh … though the pram base didn’t really fit. Even your train staff were taking photos of prams in the vestibules to prove that more storage space is needed’

London North Eastern Railway (LNER) runs train services between London and Scotland

London North Eastern Railway (LNER) runs train services between London and Scotland

Lumo, a low-cost rival operator to LNER since October 2021, also has baggage restrictions which allow customers one small bag and one medium suitcase.

Rail industry sources told MailOnline that it is believed Lumo’s restrictions came in very swiftly because its services quickly became popular with students enticed by low fares to transport large amounts of luggage to and from university.

Lumo’s boss Martijn Gilbert suggested in February that travellers with large suitcases should have to pay more than those taking ‘just a laptop or a small rucksack’. 

An LNER spokesman told MailOnline today: ‘This is nothing new. The National Conditions of Carriage – used by all train operators – set out a limit of three bags per person.

‘During particularly busy periods we use posters to remind customers of our policy. Unlike many of the airlines who operate on our London-Scotland route, LNER does not charge passengers to bring bags on to the train and does not impose weight limits.

‘We simply ask that customers are able to manage their own luggage without additional help, unless of course they are an older or disabled customer and have booked help through passenger assistance.’

LNER took over services on the East Coast Main Line after Virgin Trains East Coast returned the franchise to the Government in June 2018. Its principal destinations are London, Leeds, York, Newcastle and Edinburgh – but it runs as far north as Inverness.

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