Press release

Operators urged to tackle crowding on busiest services

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Train operators are urged to tackle overcrowding on their services after a list reveals the top 10 most congested trains.

Transport Minister Norman Baker has urged train operators to continue work to tackle congestion on their services following the publication today (19 December 2012) of the top 10 most crowded trains.

London is served by some of the busiest trains in the country according to the list of crowded trains.

Norman Baker said:

Climbing on a crowded train where there is little space can often be an unpleasant experience and I sympathise with passengers who have to travel on these services.

The operators on the list are aware of the crowding problems on these particular services. I will be monitoring these services closely, and others which have not made the top 10 list, and urging train companies to reduce crowding on the busiest services.

Rail has experienced unprecedented growth in recent years. That is why we are investing in more carriages, longer trains and better services and funding major projects like HS2, Crossrail and Thameslink, all of which will significantly boost capacity on our rail network.

It is an important tool to give increased transparency to passengers and help the industry act to improve journeys.

The list, compiled from data collected in Autumn 2011, shows that the following services were the busiest in England and Wales (in descending order):

  1. 7:44am service from Henley on Thames to London Paddington: load factor 180%
  2. 7:32am service from Woking to London Waterloo: load factor 164%
  3. 6:13pm service from London Euston to Birmingham New Street: load factor 162%
  4. 4:48pm service from London Euston to Birmingham New Street: load factor 160%
  5. 6:30am service from Banbury to London Paddington: load factor 158%
  6. 7:55am service from Stourbridge Junction to Stratford-upon-Avon: load factor 157%
  7. 6:23am service from Manchester Airport to Middlesbrough: load factor 155%
  8. 6:17pm service from London Liverpool Street to Shenfield: load factor 154%
  9. 7:14am service from Alton to London Waterloo: load factor 152%
  10. 5:46pm service from London Euston to Birmingham New Street: load factor 152%

Further information

The Department for Transport (DfT) collects rail passenger counts from train operating companies to monitor train crowding levels. All franchises let by DfT require the train operator to address crowding and to plan their timetables in such a way as to ensure, as far as possible, that crowding is not unduly concentrated on any particular route or individual service. The table included in this paper shows the 10 most overcrowded peak services in the autumn 2011 passenger counts data.

The ‘top 10’ list is determined based on ‘load factor’, which is the number of standard class passengers on a service expressed as a percentage of the standard class passenger capacity for that service. For example, a train which has the same passenger load as the passenger capacity would have a load factor of 100%.

First Great Western has recently strengthened the 7:44am service from Henley on Thames to London Paddington by adding an additional carriage, so that the number of standard class seats has increased to 340.

From December 2012 London Midland is providing three Class 350/2 ‘high density’ units for the 6:13pm service from London to Birmingham New Street to maximise the number of seats. In the long term, London Midland has 10 new 4 car trains on order that will allow them to operate additional trains on this route from 2014.

From September 2012, the 6:30am service from Banbury to London Paddington has started from Oxford not Banbury, leaving Oxford at 7:00am. It is now operated by a different type of rolling stock which provides a higher standard class seating capacity.

More recent counts on the 7:55am service from Stourbridge Junction to Stratford-upon-Avon suggest much lower loadings on this service.

In the long term, from the May 2014 timetable period, it is planned to introduce a fifth train per hour between Manchester and Leeds which should relieve capacity on the 6:23am service from Manchester Airport to Middlesbrough.

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