Press release

Train operators urged to tackle crowding on busiest services

The 10 most crowded trains statistics and latest train crowding statistics have been released.

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


Transport Minister Norman Baker has called on the rail industry to continue its work to tackle congestion on trains following today’s (24 July 2013) publication of the latest train crowding statistics.

London is served by some of the busiest trains in the country according to the most recent lists, which are part of a wider study into passenger services across England and Wales released by the Department for Transport today.

Transport Minister Norman Baker said:

Climbing on to a very crowded train is an unpleasant experience and I sympathise with passengers using these services.

I urge train operators to do what they can on these particular trains. The department is working closely with the industry to ensure this issue is tackled.

Strong transport links provide economic benefits. This is why the coalition government is doing its part investing record amounts to transform the rail network, electrifying more than 800 miles of track, purchasing state-of-the-art rolling stock for the Great Western, Thameslink, Southern and East Coast routes and delivering a new high speed network through HS2 but we all need to pull together.

The lists show the busiest services in England and Wales during spring and autumn last year.

Spring 2012

  1. 7:44am service from Henley on Thames to London Paddington: load factor 184%
  2. 7:14am service from Didcot Parkway to London Paddington: load factor 173%
  3. 4:48pm London Euston to Birmingham New Street: load factor 166%
  4. 6:08pm London Bridge to Wimbledon: load factor 159%
  5. 6:13pm London Euston to Birmingham New Street: load factor 158%
  6. 7:14am Alton to London Waterloo: load factor 156%
  7. 7:17am Banbury to London Marylebone: load factor 154%
  8. 7:10am Haslemere to Waterloo: load factor 152%
  9. 6:18pm London Paddington to Oxford: load factor 150%
  10. 7:32am Woking to London Waterloo: load factor 149%

Autumn 2012

  1. 8:27am Heathrow T1, 2, 3 to London Paddington: load factor 165%
  2. 6:13pm London Euston to Birmingham New Street: load factor 165%
  3. 6:23am Manchester Airport to Middlesbrough: load factor 162%
  4. 6:00pm London Waterloo to Portsmouth Harbour: load factor 161%
  5. 7:17am Banbury to London Marylebone: load factor 158%
  6. 6:19am Birmingham Moor Street to London Marylebone: load factor 155%
  7. 7:32am Tattenham Corner to London Bridge: load factor 154%
  8. 6:15am Portsmouth Harbour to London Waterloo: load factor 150%
  9. 7:09am Henley-on-Thames to London Paddington: load factor 149%
  10. 7:10am Haslemere to London Waterloo: load factor 149%

Further information

The Department has today released its latest rail statistics: Rail passenger numbers and crowding on weekdays in major cities in England and Wales: 2012.

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 from autumn and spring 2012 passenger counts data.

The ‘top 10’ list is generated from arrivals into 11 major cities during the morning peak (7:00am-9:59am) and departures from these cities during the evening peak (4:00pm-6:59pm) on a ‘typical’ weekday, for franchised operators only. It 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 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. This has increased capacity by more than 50% since this count was carried out.

First Great Western has in the last year strengthened the 7:14am services from Didcot Parkway to London Paddington by adding an additional carriage to boost standard class capacity by 18%.

The 4:48pm from London Euston to Birmingham New Street is now a 12-car rather than 8-car train. Furthermore, in December 2012 London Midland introduced a new train at 4.46pm from Euston to Crewe, first stop Milton Keynes Central, which has reduced the load on this train.

The 6.08pm service from London Bridge to Wimbledon is on a route that has benefited from increased service frequency since December 2012, resulting in significantly less crowded trains. In addition, Southern has also procured additional carriages that will be introduced from December this year, boosting capacity by enabling some trains to be lengthened.

From 2014 London Midland will receive 10 new Class 350/3 trains, which will allow for more services to run. It is anticipated that a new 6:16pm London Euston to Northampton service will reduce crowding on the 6:13pm Euston to Birmingham New Street service. Similar measures will be applied to reduce crowding on other Euston peak trains.

From December 2012 an equivalent service to the 7:17am Banbury to London Marylebone service has started from Princes Risborough, with fewer station stops, reducing the number of people standing.

First Great Western has changed the rolling stock on the 6:18pm service from London Paddington to Oxford boosting capacity by 10%.

During the count period, the 8.27am Heathrow T1, 2, 3 to London Paddington service was late running and therefore picked up passengers arriving at stations for the later service.

From May 2014 there will see an extra service every hour in both directions between Huddersfield in Leeds, as well as capacity improvements on other services. This should help relieve the heavily loaded trains into Leeds in the morning peak and relieve pressure on the 6:23am service from Manchester Airport to Middlesbrough.

An equivalent service to the 6:19am from Birmingham Moor Street to London Marylebone has been operated since December 2012 using different rolling stock. This has provided an additional 476 seats has tackled overcrowding.

The 7:32am service from Tattenham Corner to London Bridge was strengthened with the addition of 2 carriages in December 2012 making it a 10-car train. London Bridge is currently being rebuilt as part of the Thameslink programme, and once complete in 2018 will provide significant extra capacity for trains running to the station via East Croydon.

First Great Western is currently looking at option to tackle overcrowding on the 7:09am service from Henley On Thames to London Paddington.

For all Waterloo services, South West Trains is developing plans in conjunction with Network Rail and the Department for Transport to provide more capacity for trains using the station during the peak hours.

The top 10 list is available.

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Published 24 July 2013