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DfT confirms it will not implement overcrowding limits on busy services

Rail minister Paul Maynard has confirmed that the government will not be introducing a maximum passenger limit for overcrowded trains.

Answering a written question from MP Sharon Hodgson, Maynard said passengers prized the flexibility of the walk-on system of travel and the DfT had no intention of changing.

Hodgson asked the minister what assessment had been made of the potential merits of maximum occupancy limits on services.

Maynard replied: “One of the most popular features of the UK railways is that it’s a walk-on, or turn up and go service. This flexibility is much prized by passengers.

“The department believes that setting occupancy limits would substantially disadvantage passengers as such a system would need to either restrict travel to those with prior reservations, or to refuse to allow passengers with valid tickets to travel on a service when its occupancy limit had been reached.”

He added that the government currently moderates the situation by requiring TOCs to carry out passenger counts as part of their franchise contracts “to demonstrate that adequate capacity is being provided.”

In August, Labour attacked the DfT over what it called the “national disgrace” of train overcrowding, prompting the initial questions about capacity limits.

Top image: Teilo Colley PA Wire

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Andrew Gwilt   14/12/2017 at 04:14

Well Greater Anglia are placing 1000+ extra seats for passengers traveling to London. Just before engineering works takes place in Essex and East Anglia over the Christmas and New Year period. That will close the entire lines to & from London Liverpool Street including West Anglia and Stansted Express services also affected by the engineering works.

Lee   14/12/2017 at 07:36

How about investing in more rolling stock to meet demand? I have lost count of the number of times trains have set off from stations leaving passengers who wanted to board, stood on the platform, usually with the advice there will be another service in a few minutes, but omitting the fact it too will be packed and will be leaving people on the platform. Passengers do value a turn up and go service, but they also value being able to get on the train and get to their destination!

Tothehills   14/12/2017 at 09:55

It really is one of those case where you are damned if you do and damned if you don't. Don't you just love a can't win solution! Commuters always complain they can't get a seat but are not really prepared to pay for the privilege, one of the reason I choose not to work in a city. The same also applies to "infrequent" travelers; turn up at Kings Cross for the last train to X on Christmas Eve then wonder why it stuffed full to capacity and complain about it! I do agree will Lee that we could add extra capacity but we have just about reached the end of most "low" cost solutions and now we have to pay big time for marginally improvements given that only mainline rail makes up 3% of all journeys covering 10% of all distance. The question does come where should HMG put its dosh.

James Miller   14/12/2017 at 11:13

Perhaps we need a web site called something like, which brings togetger all of the train loading statistics and gives a good idea about how full a walk-up train will be! You might change from morning to adternoon say!

J, Leicester   14/12/2017 at 13:44

Reading between the lines, this is an acknowledgement that frequency commitments are not being met, and that such limits would result in thousands of passengers being left on the platform on various routes every day during rush hour. The DfT can't afford the predicted mountain of complaints, all of which would be upheld as those passengers will have been denied a service by any such limit through no fault of their own. If those people squeeze onto the train, they've still been provided a service, however bad, and the grounds for complaint are diminished unless the overcrowding clearly leads to health issues.

Mmlred   14/12/2017 at 13:48

It's all well and good Labour carping on about the "national disgrace" of train overcrowding - how exactly would they increase capacity by forcing TOCs to reduce the number of passengers allowed to travel on each service? Surely that would just make the overall service far worse and push rush-hour crush back onto platforms, which is debatably far more dangerous than being inside the vehicle? More populist rubbish with no actual solution.

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