Priority Card - Frequently asked questions

1. Who can apply for a priority seat card?

Any person who cannot stand safely for their journey, are elderly, pregnant, travelling with
children under three, or has a disability/visual impairment.
 
2. How does it work?
 
Successful applicants are issued with a priority seat card which can be shown to fellow passengers,
who are sitting in a priority seat. This will indicate that this passenger has been recognised by
Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) as needing a priority seat. Card holders can present their priority
seat card and ask the person seated to give up their seat. However, consideration should also be
given to the other person’s needs.
 
3. Who are priority seats intended for?
 
Priority seats are intended for passengers who have difficulty standing for their journey, including
those:
  • with a disability (temporary or permanent, hidden or visible) which limits their ability to
  • stand safely;
  • who have a visual impairment;
  • who are pregnant;
  • who are elderly;
  • who have infants, under the age of three.
 
4. Does this guarantee me a seat?
 
No, this does not guarantee a seat. Priority seats may already be occupied by other card holders
or passengers with a similar need for a seat.
 
5. Where are the priority seats situated?
 
All priority seats are clearly labelled and are generally near to the doors. There are three types of
signs provided near to the priority seats. One is placed on the back of the chair in front of the
priority seat (where applicable), one is on the window nearest the priority seating to enable
passengers to see the location of priority seats from the outside and inside of the carriage. The
other sticker is placed on the inside of the carriage showing their intended use in pictograms.
On newer trains, the priority seat is also distinguished by a different seat cover, with a blue
triangle with a P on it.
 
6. I hold a standard class ticket, can I use first class if no seats are available in standard class?
 
No. To travel in first class accommodation you must have a valid first class ticket. A priority seat
card does not authorise you to sit in first class. Priority seats in first class accommodation are for
first class ticket holders.
 
7. Where can I use my priority seat card?
 
It is valid across GTR on Gatwick Express, Great Northern, Southern and Thameslink services. In
addition our card is linked in with Southeastern’s version so you can also use it on their services.
This is not valid on any other train operators’ services. Priority seat signage across services may
differ, however, you can still present your priority seat card to fellow passengers in the same way. 
 
8. I have a child under three, but I keep them in a buggy for the journey. Can I ask for a priority seat?
 
Priority seats are intended for passengers who are holding a young child and would find it difficult
or dangerous to hold onto grab rail with one hand and carry a child in the other. If a child remains
in a buggy for the journey the priority seat card should not be used. There is often little room
beside priority seats to park a buggy and the vestibule area allows more space for passengers to
gain access to and from the train.
 
9. Do I have to explain why I need a seat to fellow passengers?
 
No, not at all. The idea of this card is to eliminate the need for you to explain to fellow passengers
your reasons for requiring a seat.
 
10. How do I know if the person already seated has a card?
 
You do not. It is hoped that the person sitting there will show you a priority seat card to let you
know they are entitled to sit there, however some people may still have a valid need for the seat
and not be a holder of a priority seat card. In this instance please be considerate of their needs
and perhaps ask other passengers on other priority seats.
 
11. What do I do if I still cannot get a seat?
 
If you present your card to a fellow passenger and they will not give up their seat, there may be a
valid reason for this. There are usually several priority seats in one area and you could ask other
passengers. If all priority seats are taken and you are unable to gain a seat after asking, the card
could be presented to passengers sitting in other seats in the carriage. If there is a conductor in
the area they may be able to assist with gaining a seat, however, please bear in mind that some
services do not have conductors on board.
 
12. How long is the card valid for?
 
Renewal of cards is at GTR’s discretion but in general, cards will expire on a given date. For
guidance:
  • Cards issued to pregnant ladies will expire two weeks after their due date.
  • Cards issued for people with a temporary disability will expire two weeks after the expected
  • date of recovery.
  • Cards issued for those travelling with children under the age of three, will expire annually or on
  • the child’s third birthday, whichever is the sooner.
  • All other applicants will be issued with a card for a four year period.
 
13. How much does the priority seat card cost?
 
There is no charge for the initial card. However, if it is lost, stolen or defaced then a replacement
fee may apply.
 
14. Do I need to purchase a train ticket for my journey?
 
Yes, you must always travel with a valid ticket for your journey. Tickets must be purchased before
travel. The priority seat card is not a ticket.
 
15. Can I get priority seat cards from the station?
 
No, these are only available from Customer Services upon successful application.
 
16. My disability means that I cannot fill in the form, can someone assist me?
 
Customer Services can be called to assist with filling in the form. They can complete the form for
you, with your guidance, and send it to you to sign to then return with copies of your supporting
documentation.
 
17. Do you have alternative format application forms?
 
We can provide the forms in larger print. Alternatively you can call Customer Services and they
will talk you through the form.
 
18. What happens if I lose my card?
 
You will need to apply for a duplicate card through Customer Services. An administration fee may
apply.
 
19. What do I do if my card is stolen?
 
If your card is stolen you should report it to the police so that an incident number can be issued.
Please also notify Customer Services as soon as possible so that they can record the theft. We will issue a duplicate card to you free of charge on receipt of a copy of the incident report. We are only
able to send a duplicate card as a result of theft once, before charging for a replacement card.
 
20. Who can I talk to if I have a problem with the card?
 
Please call Customer Services and let them know what the problem is. They will do what they can to assist.
 
21. Who can I give feedback to about the card?
 
You can call Customer Services to give verbal feedback or use the text phone number provided.
You can also give feedback at our regular Meet the Manager sessions.
 
22. I want a seat but have no impairment – why do others get priority?
 
Whilst we want to ensure that all passengers are able to travel in as much comfort as possible
many people find it uncomfortable or painful to stand whilst travelling. We have introduced the
card to help those passengers get a seat. However, peak time travel is the busiest time and is
when priority seats are needed most for those who have difficulty standing. Thank you for your
help and understanding.
 
23. Can the card be used for anything else?
 
No, currently the card can only be used to assist passengers gaining a priority seat. In the future
GTR may introduce other initiatives where the card could be used. We will keep you informed
when these progress.