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Rush-hour rail congestion worsening

Rush-hour overcrowding on trains in London and the South-east is worsening. Passengers for Paddington suffer the most, with an average of 18.5 per cent being forced to stand at morning peak times, and the busiest service is the 6.37am train from Reading. Outside of London, Leeds has the highest number of standard-class passengers without a seat, with 14 per cent standing on arrival at the city centre.

Office of Rail Regulation figures show that, overall, passenger numbers are 3 per cent greater than capacity. That was a return to the level recorded in 2008, following the decrease to 2.2 per cent in 2009.

Trains in London and the South-east were more crowded in the morning peak, with a crowding figure of 4 per cent, than in the afternoon when it was 1.9 per cent. In major regional cities on a typical autumn 2010 weekday, however, trains were generally more crowded in the afternoon peak than in the morning.

David Sidebottom, director of rail customer watchdog Passenger Focus, said: "Getting a seat is a daily struggle for some passengers. While we welcome that more people are taking the train, the issue is where they are all going to sit."