From Microsoft News
Union leaders are accusing a leading train company of "mugging" its passengers by starting to charge them to reserve a seat.
From this weekend, National Express plans to introduce a fee of £2.50 for reserving a single or £5 for a return ticket on its East Coast and East Anglia franchises.
The Transport Salaried Staffs Association - which revealed the plan - said it was "outrageous".
Booking clerks have told the union they are worried about the reaction they'll receive from passengers when they ask for the extra cash.
TSSA general secretary Gerry Doherty said: "This is an outrageous imposition on millions of passengers and amounts to the fourth increase in o
verall prices in just five months.
"What National Express is now saying to passengers is that, if you want to be sure of sitting down on their trains for a return journey, then you will have to pay an extra £5 for a return journey or £2.50 for a single.
"That is simply mugging passengers for an extra fiver, and it will hit the elderly and families the hardest.
"They cannot risk being forced to stand on long journeys from Newcastle to London and therefore they will be forced to pay the extra."
TSSA officials - who have been pressing the Government to halt increases in rail fares - say it is the highest seat booking charge ever imposed by a private rail company.
It comes as the East Coast franchise holder is reportedly trying to renegotiate its contract with the Government.