/ Travel & Leisure

Are overcrowded trains running out of control?

Ever been squished onto a train like a Ribena-berry? We probably all have at some point. Perhaps even daily if we’re on one of the more crammed commuter lines…

Although many of us have squeezed onto a train, how many of us have actually been chucked off because it was too crowded? Two of my colleagues recently shared their experiences of being on trains where the guard announced that they wouldn’t be leaving the station unless people got off.

I didn’t even know guards had that power, but apparently they do.

The most crowded train companies

The Office of Rail Regulation has released some overcrowding stats that show just how crammed in some of us are. My sympathies to you if you use First Great Western – it’s the most overcrowded train company by far at 16.6% passengers in excess of capacity. The next worst is Southern at 3.5%.

For most train companies the space for standing allowance is set at 0.45 square metres per person. Although best hold your breath if you’re on South West Trains – they’ll only give you 0.25 metres.

Interestingly, this compares to European Community regulations for the transport of livestock, where unshorn sheep under 55kg are allowed 0.3 to 0.4 square metres each. There are no such laws or regulations for train passengers – it’s seems it’s a matter of how many you can squeeze in.

The most crowded commuter lines

The regulator’s figures show that many cities’ rail commuter lines are choked. Here are those with the highest percentages of standing passengers on a weekday in the evening peak, the busiest time:

  • Leeds – 50%
  • Manchester – 33.2%
  • Sheffield – 30.6%
  • Birmingham – 28%
  • Liverpool – 27.1%

Areas in London are predictably worse, although with big variation. Here are the biggest crushes in the morning peak, the busiest time London:

  • Moorgate – 82.1%
  • Fenchurch Street – 81.3%
  • Waterloo – 79.1%
  • Paddington – 68.2%
  • London Bridge – 61.8%

And it’s not just trains that are affected, stations are crammed too. Just yesterday Network Rail listed eleven major railway stations that were so overcrowded that it thinks action needs to be taken otherwise ‘some stations risk becoming victims of their own success’. These include London stations Victoria, Charing Cross, Wimbledon and Clapham Junction.

What’s your experience? Are you regularly crushed onto trains like sardines with fellow passengers? And have you ever been chucked off a train because it was too crowded?

How packed are your trains?

My trains are way too crowded (57%, 108 Votes)

My trains are a bit too crowded (25%, 47 Votes)

My trains aren’t too crowded (18%, 33 Votes)

Total Voters: 188

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Yes, Thameslink

What will change though? nothing, so long as operators cannot respond to increases in demand due to the franchise system then this will continue ad nauseum