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Southern runs five out of UK’s top 10 overcrowded trains

Five of the top 10 most overcrowded services were run by Southern in spring last year, new statistics released by DfT today have revealed.

On one of those services, from East Grinstead to London Bridge arriving at 8.20, capacity was at very cramped 1,366 passengers, more than double the max capacity of 640.

More generally, on a typical autumn weekday in 2016, more than half a million (583,000) passengers arrived into London during the morning peak. This compares markedly to the next busiest typical weekday peak in Birmingham, where the figure stood at 42,000.

Morning peak crowding was highest in London at 5.7%, followed by Manchester at 3.5% and Leeds at 2.7%.

Outside of London, six of the other most crowded services were run by Thameslink or Great Northern, although TransPennine Express also recorded considerably packed services – where, at worst, 361 passengers were squeezed into a four-car train from Glasgow to Manchester airport meant for 191 people.

It was also revealed that the biggest percentage growth in rush hour train usage was in Manchester and Leeds last year, both of which went up by more than 7%.

Anthony Smith, chief executive of Transport Focus, said that continuing to invest in new trains, better frequency, track capacity and improved signalling will ultimately give passengers a better chance of getting a seat or at least standing in some comfort, able to do something other than endure.

In return for continuing fare rises passengers expect continued investment and improvement,” Smith explained. “As the positive trends of rising passenger numbers and revenue continue and we commute further, this is the only way to keep a lid on crowding.

“As the population continues to rise and investment always lags behind getting a seat on many busy metro and Underground services became a dream for most passengers some time ago. However, our research shows the ability to sit down can transform an alright journey into a good one.

“The focus on day to day performance also needs to be kept up to avoid crowding caused by late, cancelled or short formed trains.

Our latest passenger survey shows that 31% of commuters were dissatisfied with the level of crowding on their train.”

Campaigners agreed with the Transport Focus boss, with Lianna Etkind of the Campaign for Better Transport emphasising that people are right to be angry about paying higher fares year on year but never getting a seat.

“With such high levels of overcrowding, the government cannot expect people to pay for yet another fares hike in January. The government needs to freeze fares, while continuing to invest in more train carriages and additional services,” she argued.

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Lutz   28/07/2017 at 00:40

No mention of constraints on current Souther services due to Thameslink work, no mention of the source of growth of traffic in Manchester, and no mention if we are seeing value for money out of those investments.

Rail Realist   28/07/2017 at 21:21

Statistics are always prone to misleading info. the train from East Grinstead cited would only have been severely overcrowded from East Croydon to London Bridge. Was it the normal 12 coaches or had it been only 8 that day? had a London Bridge service from the Brighton line been cancelled? The overall message is however one of encouragement; more people are using the trains. A nice challenge to have. On short distances from the station prior to the end point may always have to have standing passengers. It would be unrealistic to provide seats for short journeys at peak hours even if that was practical

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