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Campaigners respond to government figures on rail overcrowding

9 September 2015

Campaign for Better Transport has responded to the publication of figures on rail overcrowding by the Department for Transport.


Martin Abrams, Public Transport Campaigner, Campaign for Better Transport said: "These figures show that overcrowding is becoming unbearable for rail users across the UK. Almost a quarter of passengers are now forced to stand on the busiest commuter routes and people will be asking, why the quality of their service and passenger experience is declining when fares have increased so steeply over the last 5 years." 

The Department for Transport's statistics show 1.7bn annual rail passengers - a number that has more than doubled in the last 10 years. Many of the country's main stations are struggling to keep pace with growing demand for rail travel at peak times.


In London

  • 563 thousand arrivals in the morning peak on a typical weekday in 2014 
  • 22 per cent of passengers are having to stand on a typical weekday and increase of 2 per cent on 2013
  • An average of 4.1 per cent of peak time trains were deemed 'over-capacity' (passengers having to stand for more than 20 minutes)
  • Paddington was the worst affected station, with peak time trains a staggering 10.1 per cent over-capacity
  • 139 thousand passengers were standing at trains’ busiest points on arrival into London in the morning peak 
  • 26 per cent of morning peak trains were over capacity and in total 59 per cent had passengers standing

Across the rest of the country

  • Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds and Sheffield all reported services with passengers in excess of capacity at peak times (passengers having to stand for more than 20 minutes)
  • Manchester was the worst offender outside of London with 4.3 per cent of peak time trains over capacity
  • The city outside London with the highest number of passengers was Birmingham, with 39 thousand passengers on board trains arriving into the city centre in the morning peak. Manchester had 31 thousand morning peak arrivals and Leeds 26 thousand.
  • 15.7 per cent of passengers arriving into Manchester in the morning peak were standing. 4.3 per cent of services arriving into Manchester were over capacity an increase of almost 2 percent

Martin Abrams continued: "The Rail Minister has claimed commuters get 'fair fares for comfortable commuting' but the reality for many is sky-high fares and a railway that struggles to cope with demand. The Government must honour its commitments to increase capacity, complete major electrification projects and introduce new higher capacity trains. It also needs to tackle industry backsliding on innovations like flexible ticketing which would help part-time workers and reduce the pressure on the morning rush." 




For further information please contact: Martin Abrams, Public Transport Campaigner at Campaign for Better Transport on 0207 566 6489 / 07765577689 or martin.abrams@bettertransport.org.uk


Notes to editors:

1. On 9 September, Department for Transport published new figures showing overcrowding on train services in England and Wales 


2. Rail Minister Claire Perry was quoted in the FT in August 2014 as saying:
“What we have got to do is make sure rail passengers, who could be forgiven for thinking ‘What on earth am I getting for these rises I’ve seen over the last decade?’, start to realise that they are paying fair fares for comfortable commuting.”


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