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Labour slams DfT for ‘national disgrace’ of overcrowded trains

Labour has today slammed the government for failing to cull overcrowding on trains as it warned that peak capacity will soar to 225% over the limit in five years if current trends continue.

Shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald argued that overcrowding was “fast becoming a national disgrace” under the current Conservative government.

It follows DfT statistics last week finding that Southern ran five of the most crowded services in the country, with the worst being the 7.16am service from East Grinstead to London Bridge – which packed 1,300 passengers onto a train only meant for 640 people.

“It will come as little surprise to long-suffering commuters to hear that overcrowding on trains has reached record levels, but the bad news is that it’s set to get even worse,” McDonald warned. “At the current rate, some of the most vital commuter routes in the country will be appallingly cramped by the end of this Parliament.

“Nobody should have to suffer being crammed into dangerously full carriages as part of their daily commute, but under the Tories passengers face this prospect, paying through the nose for the dubious privilege of being crammed into ever-fuller trains.”

The Labour MP claimed that with fares up by 27% since 2010 and major electrification projects across the country being cancelled, the public are now paying more for less under the Tories.

But a DfT spokesman argued that rail passenger journeys had more than doubled over the last 20 years, and that the department is committed to improving train services for people in the UK.

“We are delivering more trains, more seats and quicker journeys to meet this record demand,” he explained. “We are investing £40bn in our railways and by the end of 2019 we will have more than 3,700 new carriages on the network.

“We know some passengers have not received the service they deserve, and we continue to work with the industry to cut journey times and crowding, improve reliability and deliver more frequent services.”

Top Image: Yui Mok PA Wire

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Greg Mckay   01/08/2017 at 15:03

Does the 7.16am service from East Grinstead to London Bridge really need a first class facility? Do these problems not persist because people who actually make the decisions about train services (if they even use the train at all) always travel first class and are thus spared the indignities of the majority and don't really experience overcrowding as an issue to worry about?

Alistair   01/08/2017 at 17:06

@GregMckay....if you had travelled on the 0716 from East Grinstead (or most other Southern services actually) you would know that the First Class area is minute and the seats are the same as in standard, just with added anti-macasser (if you're lucky!). Anybody buying a first class ticket gets little extra apart from a better chance of a seat, so removing that is going to make absolutely no difference to the overall capacity issues! I would agree though that the Dft interference and blundering on most matters Rail is shambolic and an extremely expensive way of (mis)managing the Industry.

Jimbo   01/08/2017 at 18:41

As someone who has commuted by rail for 20+ years, I can honestly say that trains have been busy all that time. Adding more trains or making trains longer just allows more commuters. The current trends are nothing to do with the current government, but are a fact of life. I object to the Labour party making political points about something they would not be able to do anything about anymore than the tories.

Andrew Gwilt   02/08/2017 at 01:44

Hope that includes Greater Anglia.

James Palma   02/08/2017 at 12:38

Jimbo is exactly right. There is no real fifference between now and 20 years ago. The trains in the south east have always been packed. We also have a growing population and more movement. We also have people that do not move down the platform to use parts of trains that are emptier, also people stand in the doorways an obstruct people getting off and on. All of this contributes to overcrowding and delays which have knock on effects across the network. Obviously it is much more complicated than the simplistic view represente by the MP and peoples popular ideas. And statistics? Yeah. Lies lies and more lies. If i believed statistics my salary would be way higher than it actually is. Haha

Mark Hare   07/08/2017 at 10:45

What a surprise - a desperate Labour party trying to score cheap political points against the Tories by spouting utter tosh. No doubt they haven't mentioned what Labour would do any better/differently to alleviate the problem?

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