So, just how cramped are you?

Issued under a Creative Commons licence

Issued under a Creative Commons licence

Finding out about the amount of legroom on trains is like trying finding out the Queen’s inside leg measurement: it’s risky, fraught with difficulty, and tantamount to treason.

Legroom (or lack of it) is a pet hate of mine, having endured many journeys where I have had to sit perfectly still, lest my thigh come into contact with the stranger’s opposite. I mean, thigh rubbing is more a third date thing.

Having contacted all the major rail companies and been ignored/refused by all of them, the best figures available were courtesy of Justin Smith on railforums.co.uk. He measured the distance from the rear of the seat to where one’s knees normally would be. I converted them from inches to centimetres, and put them into a table, and a graph. The list is not exhaustive.

As you can see, Northern Rail is the worst train company, with all of their rolling stock offering just 66cm in legroom – that’s the same as a 26 inch telly. However, the worst single train is the East Midlands class 158, with 63.5cm of legroom. This train is a long-distance train that runs from Norwich to Liverpool – a journey that takes over four hours. Ouch.

At a third more room than Northern Rail, Hull Trains offers the most generous legroom for standard class passengers, at a capacious 86.4cm – the same as in first class. Finally, a reason to go to Hull! Out of the trains to offer ‘priority’ seating (generally for those who are disabled, with pushchairs or small children), only on Hull Trains is the priority seating more generous than in first class – but only by two centimetres.

The average length of seating in the eight trains with First Class is 90.8cm, whereas standard class in the same eight trains measures at an average of just 73.7cm. The biggest class divide is on the electric East Coast train (which runs on the West Coast Main Line), with 25.3cm difference between first class and standard class.

Part of the reason why it is so difficult to work out on which journeys you will be luxuriating in space or wedged in like a Lego brick at an orgy is because the seating layout is not dependent on the train company itself, but the rolling stock each company runs (i.e. looking at different carriages – trainspotting territory).

However, even if two train companies own the same type of rolling stock, they often refurbish the interiors to their own specifications. Therefore, it is highly likely that legroom on a train is almost as idiosyncratic as the train itself. Perhaps the best advice is to invest in a straitjacket, so you will be sure you can use the seat next to you to put your feet up.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

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Vodafone and EE to provide free LU WiFi

Free WiFi access on London Underground will be provided to Vodafone and EE customers from the beginning of 2013.

The current system, installed by Virgin Media for the Olympics, is free of charge until December 31st, after which commuters will be asked to pay £2 for a day’s access, or £15 for a month.

But customers of Vodafone and EE, which has just taken over Orange and T-Mobile, will be given free access to the WiFi, alongside those on Virgin Media contracts.

Customers on 02 and 3 networks will not be provided with free WiFi

The WiFi network covers 72 London Underground stations, with an additional 28 to open before the end of the year. EF