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The most overcrowded trains in England revealed

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Some of the busiest rail services in major cities across England last autumn carried more than twice as many passengers as they had seats available, according to new figures.

Department for Transport (DfT) figures reveal that there were well in excess of 1,000 commuters packed onto multiple morning trains into London, despite most having a capacity of less than 700.

By the time it pulled into its final destination at London Bridge, a 7.16am Southern service from East Grinstead with a standard class capacity of 640 was carrying a whopping 1,220 people.

Thousands of people were left without a seat for their commute
Image:
Thousands of people were left without a seat for their commute

South Western Railway ran a similarly busy 7.32am service from Woking to London Waterloo, which had even more people on board by the time it terminated at 8.19am.

In standard class on that train, 720 seats were shared among 1,267 people.

But the most overcrowded peak train of all was a 4.22am TransPennine Express service arriving at Manchester Oxford Road station on its way to the city airport from Glasgow Central at 8.24am.

Overcrowded train
overcrowded train
overcrowded train

With 403 people squeezed into four carriages containing just 191 seats, it operated at a load factor of 211% – higher than any other service in England and Wales.

The DfT said crowding on the service was “likely to have reduced” since May as it was no longer able to call at Wigan due to new timetables, which have caused major disruption for passengers in the North since they were introduced.

Chris Grayling faced a grilling from MPs over the changes on Tuesday, but claimed it would have been “irresponsible” for him to have stopped them from being made.

The transport secretary told the House of Commons he was “not a specialist in rail matters” and stressed that he was not responsible for running the railways.

Chris Grayling
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Chris Grayling has faced criticism for problems on the trains

Another TransPennine Express service, from Manchester Airport to Edinburgh, was the second most overcrowded, with the rest of the top 10 entirely made up of trains heading in and out of London.

The top 10 most overcrowded peak train services in major cities in England and Wales (Autumn 2017, DfT):

  1. TransPennine Express, Glasgow Central to Manchester Airport – 211%
  2. TransPennine Express, Manchester Airport to Edinburgh – 202%
  3. Great Northern, Kings Cross to Royston – 199%
  4. Southern, East Grinstead to London Bridge – 191%
  5. West Midlands Trains, London Euston to Crewe – 187%
  6. Southern, Reigate to London Bridge – 178%
  7. South Western Railway, Woking to London Waterloo – 176%
  8. Southern, Bognor Regis to London Bridge – 176%
  9. Thameslink, Brighton to Bedford – 175%
  10. South Western Railway, Woking to Waterloo – 172%

The heavy presence of services into London is no surprise, with DfT figures showing that 577,000 commuters arrived in the capital during peak hours on a typical autumn weekday.

That compared to 45,100 in Birmingham, 33,600 in Manchester, 24,000 in Reading, and 25,700 in Leeds.

File photo dated 16/02/17 of a Southern rail train at Victoria Station in London.
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Southern is one of the services to have had to cope with huge demand for seats

Customer satisfaction among commuters regarding crowding levels stood at just 56%, which was far lower than those who used the trains for leisure at other times of the day.

On average, 23% of passengers on trains in and out of London were forced to stand, peaking at 36% for those heading to and from Fenchurch Street station.

The DfT has said that train companies are addressing overcrowding “as a priority”, with shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald claiming that passengers were “sick of paying extortionate fares to endure overcrowded services”.

Steve Chambers, of the Campaign for Better Transport, said “we desperately need to expand the network” – and called for new carriages, lines and stations to be opened.

Outside England, rail services in the rest of the UK were also reported to be highly in demand during the autumn months, with a considerable increase to the number in journeys in Scotland.

About 97.8 million journeys were made last year, with Glasgow Central and Edinburgh Waverly ranked as by far the busiest stations.

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