Commuters forced to stand for overcrowding beyond the limit
Tuesday 30 March 1999
Two commuter services into London - Thameslink and South West Trains - exceeded their permitted overcrowding limits last year.
Thameslink, which runs from Bedford to Brighton via London and from central London to Wimbledon, carried 7.1 per cent more people than the capacity of its trains allowed. South West Trains, the commuter service from London to Surrey and Hampshire, recorded 3.9 per cent overcrowding.
John O'Brien, the franchising director of the Office of Passenger Rail Franchising (Opraf), said: "Clearly, if numbers continue to grow at the predicted rate, the system will soon become overloaded. Commuter capacity is a key issue that the Strategic Rail Authority will need to urgently address."
Mr O'Brien said that both train companies must devise action plans to ease overcrowding. They may be fined or even lose their franchises if they fail to deliver.
The Opraf system, which only covers the 10 commuter services that run into London, gives train companies a 3 per cent threshold to allow for standing. Opraf said the other eight of these operators had stayed within the threshold, despite achieving an annual 3.8 per cent growth in passenger numbers.
The figures are the latest blow to the industry, following dreadful punctuality and reliability figures that prompted the Government to intervene and call a rail summit.
John Prescott, Deputy Prime Minister with responsibility for transport, said yesterday that carrying more passengers was no excuse for poor performance. "Passengers expect and deserve to travel in comfort. That doesn't include standing for the length of the journey," he said. "As passenger numbers continue to grow there will be more strain on current capacity. We look to the franchising director, where possible, to reduce any severe overcrowding."
The London Regional Passenger Committee, the official watchdog for the capital, said passengers on Thameslink faced "appalling problems". Rufus Barnes, LRPC director, said: "There does not appear to be a short-term solution because of the infrastructure limitations in south London."
The Association of Train Operating Companies said the rail system was "wrestling with the problems of its own success".
"We are having to cope with unprecedented growth of 25 per cent over the past four years. We have introduced 1,000 extra services a day to cope with increasing demand but we still need more trains and major improvements to track and signalling."
Railtrack last week unveiled a pounds 27bn 10-year investment programme but only committed pounds 1.4bn of new money to expand the network. The Health and Safety Executive said it had commissioned research into whether overcrowding affected railway safety.
t Trains carrying cars will return tomorrow as a private venture, four years after British Rail axed them to save money.
Motorail aims by 2001 to take 20,000 cars off the roads each year. It will cost pounds 360 return to put a car on the train from London to Glasgow. Passengers have to travel separately but train operators GNER, Virgin and ScotRail are offering low fares, and Motorail also hopes easyJet will offer cheap air fares for passengers.
WORST LINES FOR OVERCROWDING
ROUTE % passengers in
excess of capacity
Wimbledon-Blackfriars 14.1 per cent AM
Wimbledon-Blackfriars 12.1 per cent PM
London Euston-Watford 10.9 per cent AM
South West Trains
Short distance services 6.3 per cent AM
Richmond-Woolwich 5.9 per cent AM
South West Trains
Long distance services 5.8 per cent AM
Bedford-Brighton 5.8 per cent AM
Bedford-Brighton 5.5 per cent PM
South London routes 4.6 per cent AM
All Routes 4.4 per cent AM
Source: Office for Passenger Rail Franchising
AM=morning peak; PM=evening peak
- 1 Scottish independence: Ireland since 1919 is a lesson for Scotland in what a Yes vote means
- 2 Thailand deaths: Pair's bloodied bodies found naked on Koh Tao beach
- 3 Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
- 4 Kanye West stops concert after two fans don't stand up - doesn't realise one is in wheelchair and the other disabled
- 5 QS university world rankings: Imperial College London leapfrogs Oxford to join Cambridge as best British university
Thailand deaths: Pair's bloodied bodies found naked on Koh Tao beach
Russia freezes Ukraine into submission: Kiev admits country doesn't have enough fuel for winter
Scottish independence: Police will be on high alert on Friday whatever the result
QS university world rankings: Imperial College London leapfrogs Oxford to join Cambridge as best British university
Scottish independence exclusive: Millions of banknotes sent to Scotland in case Yes vote sparks run on ATMs
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
The political class is doing what Hitler couldn’t – destroying Britain
Scottish independence: Nationalist leader Jim Sillars threatens pro-union companies with 'day of reckoning' after independence
Scottish independence: Yes campaign feels the heat as Alex Salmond's NHS claims come under furious attack
Portuguese academic says British are 'filthy, violent and drunk'
£23m Birmingham cycle scheme is attacked by Tory councillor for not catering to the elderly
£35000 - £50000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior QA Engineer (Agil...
£26000 - £28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Digital Marketing Executive (SEO, PP...
£40000 - £50000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our retail client ...
£400 - £450 Per Annum possibly more for the right candidate: Clearwater People...