Latest Rail News

30.10.14

Standing on trains for more than 20 mins unacceptable – rail minister

Standing on trains for more than 20 minutes is “unacceptable”, according to rail minister Claire Perry following a recent ‘mystery shopper’ exercise on the 10 busiest services in the country.

After seeing for herself the extent of overcrowding, Perry said rail services were not like the London Underground, where trains run every couple of minutes.

People are “late for work if they could not board their trains", she said. “There is a very strong expectation that nobody who is travelling for more than 20 minutes should be standing beyond that point,” she added.

Fellow Conservative MP Dominic Raab also wanted answers about why his constituents were being treated like “sardines”.

He specifically cited the conditions on the 07.32 Woking to London Waterloo service during a Westminster Hall debate on value for money on services operated by South West Trains.

He said the train, dubbed the ‘Sardine Express’ in the media, was regularly carrying 500 passengers more than its capacity and was "packed to the gunnels" long before it reached its final destination.

Raab was unhappy with rising fares while passengers having to put up with “cattle class” conditions. He pointed out that EU rules stipulate that calves, goats and sheep must be transported by train with least 0.3 metres square of space per animal, while the governing standard for commissioning commuter services is now 0.25 metres squared.

Perry said the railways were a victim of their own popularity, with passenger numbers doubling since privatisation and demand increasing by 10% each year in some parts of the country.

"Passengers in many cases do not feel they are getting value for money," she said. "They are travelling on crowded, slow trains and cannot understand why timetables get messed up and the whole resilience of the network can go down if we have a fatality."

A train's capacity is defined as all seats, plus a standing allowance if passengers are standing for less than 20 minutes. Figures published last month showed that during the high peak between 08.00 and 09.00, 38% of London services were over capacity, and 81% had passengers standing.

(Image: c. Stefan Rousseau)

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email opinion@railtechnologymagazine.com

Comments

Roger Capel   31/10/2014 at 11:54

Never mind EU regulations, I said years ago that the old BRB rulebook for the transport of livestock pampered the passengers in comparison to some of today's expresses. Regular watering might actually be nice; not so sure about the fresh straw bedding though------

Gabriel Oaks   05/11/2014 at 15:13

"Standing on trains for more than 20 mins unacceptable – rail minister" But more importantly exactly what is the rail minister proposing to do about this ongoing problem?

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