Worst offender is `victim of success'

IT WILL come as no surprise to beleaguered commuters on the 7.51am Thameslink service from Wimbledon, south London, to Blackfriars that they are riding the most overcrowded trains on the network.

This service accounted for much of the 14 per cent overcrowding in the morning rush hour on the route, revealed in official figures published yesterday. Every morning 5,415 people travel on trains designed to take just 4,746.

Overall, Thameslink suffered 7.1 per cent overcrowding across its network. The next worst offender, South West Trains, had 3.9 per cent.

Thameslink said it was the "victim of its own success". Passenger numbers have risen by 50 per cent since privatisation, with 12 per cent more commuters in the last year alone.

It said thousands of passengers flocked to its core route, from Bedford into central London and out the other side to Brighton, as it cut fares and improved performance.

Railtrack has pledged to spend pounds 800m on the Thameslink 2000 project to double capacity on a bottleneck just south of the Thames. But the project is six years behind schedule and will not be complete until 2006.

Thameslink yesterday said it could solve the problem within 14 months by building more trains and buying space on the parallel Midland Main Line to run more services. But it said the Government must extend its seven-year franchise to make the investment worthwhile.

Euan Cameron, Thameslink managing director, said: "If we do nothing then within three years we will have a major problem north of the river. Waiting for Thameslink 2000 is wholly unacceptable."

Rufus Barnes, director of the capital's official watchdog, the London Regional Passenger Committee, said commuters suffered "horrendous problems" but said they were not all Thameslink's fault.

He said the amount of investment needed to meet the Government's targets for getting commuters out of their cars and on to public transport was beyond the resources of the industry.

South West Trains said passenger numbers had risen 24 per cent since it won the franchise in April 1996. It said overcrowding increased by just 0.1 per cent over the last year, despite a 9.8 per cent passenger growth, because of its investment in extra trains. But a spokeswoman said: "Major infrastructure investment is needed such as lengthening platforms."

Railtrack last week suggested introducing double-decker trains and longer platforms but made no firm commitments, saying other companies would have to share the cost.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before