News story

Rail Minister renews pledge to tackle overcrowding on trains

The government and rail industry continue to deliver capacity-boosting measures, as latest crowding statistics published.

passengers leaving train

The government has renewed its commitment to provide more seats, more services and better journeys across the rail network, following the publication today (9 September 2015) of the latest crowding statistics.

As part of the government’s record investment in the rail network, more than 3,700 extra carriages will be rolled out across the UK by the end of 2019 – with schemes such as the government’s Intercity Express and Thameslink programmes set to provide state-of-the-art new trains on routes around the country.

The ongoing efforts to increase capacity have been highlighted as the Department for Transport published statistics showing the extent of crowding on trains in England and Wales during 2014. The figures include a list of the top 10 most crowded trains during autumn last year, ranking the busiest peak services in major cities according to passenger count data.

Rail Minister Claire Perry said:

We have seen record-breaking numbers use the railways in the past year, with 1.7 billion journeys completed in 2014, more than double the number recorded a decade ago.

To meet this unprecedented demand we are investing £38 billion in the railways for the 5 years until 2019, underpinned by flagship schemes like the Intercity Express and Thameslink programmes to provide more space and more seats on trains.

I know how frustrated customers are with overcrowding, and I expect the rail industry, including operators, to continue to develop innovative proposals to meet the capacity challenge head on.

In the past 12 months since the previous crowding statistics, the rail industry and government have continued to make significant progress in addressing capacity issues:

  • the Intercity Express Programme (IEP) is well underway to delivering new, larger trains on the Great Western Line from 2017, which appears twice in today’s top 10 list, and on the East Coast Mainline from 2018, which is forecast for rapid growth in demand. IEP will unlock more capacity on these routes by adding 40% more seats in the morning peak in to Paddington and by 28% into Kings Cross respectively
  • the Thameslink Programme, which is transforming one of Europe’s busiest stretches of railways, delivered the first state-of-the-art class 700 train to the UK for testing in July, with roll out into passenger service commencing in Spring 2016. The new trains will add 30,000 more seats in the Thameslink core, between Blackfriars to St Pancras International, while passengers departing from Bedford to London will benefit from 2,500 more seats in the morning peak. One Thameslink service appears in the top 10 list.

Large new rolling stock orders, agreed with government, have also been placed this year to boost capacity. In July 2015 First Great Western announced 29 long-distance trains to serve the south west from 2018, adding 1,000 additional seats at peak times. On c2c, which serves the route between London and Essex, 68 new carriages will be introduced from 2019 onwards.

Other recent improvements for busy commuter routes include:

  • First Great Western completing its conversion of first class carriages on High Speed Trains in July, to create 3,000 more standard class seats a day across the network and nearly 16% more standard class seats on services into London in the morning peak
  • the government confirming that on the Northern network, the removal of the outdated and unpopular Pacers will be complete by the end of 2019, with at least 120 brand-new carriages introduced on the franchise — by 2020, the new Northern and TransPennine Express franchises will deliver an increase in peak capacity into the major northern cities by more than a third
  • South West Trains currently adding 108 extra refurbished carriages to its network — the roll-out will deliver capacity for an extra 23,000 peak-time travellers every day
  • London Midland welcoming a £62 million DfT-funded fleet of new electric trains into service from October 2014 — 2 months earlier than planned, providing extra carriages on some of the busiest morning and evening services to and from London Euston

The ‘top 10’ for autumn 2014 – each service was between 58% and 86% over its capacity.

1

04:22 service from Glasgow Central to Manchester Airport operated by TransPennine Express (load factor 186%, 164 passengers in excess of its capacity of 191)

Capacity is based on seats only. Service has first class.

Overall, TPE has seen significant growth on the Anglo-Scottish route with more passengers travelling for leisure, from Manchester to Edinburgh/Glasgow, alongside commuters. New electric rolling stock on all Anglo-Scottish services via Wigan has brought about significant journey time reductions, and low-priced Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) tickets for 20 mile journeys have also contributed to the increase.

2

16:00 service from Manchester Airport to Edinburgh operated by TransPennine Express (load factor 185%, 162 passengers in excess of its capacity of 191)

Capacity is based on seats only. Service has first class.

See note at 1 above.

3

06:31 service from Reading to London Paddington operated by First Great Western (load factor 176%, 279 passengers in excess of its capacity of 367).

Capacity includes seats and a standing allowance. Service has first class.

First Great Western recognises this service is crowded and has enhanced the capacity by declassifying First Class on the Class 165. This will add an extra 16 Standard Class seats on this service.

4

07:57 service from London Heathrow to London Paddington operated by Heathrow Connect (load factor 171%, 338 passengers in excess of its capacity of 476).

Capacity includes seats and a standing allowance. Service has no first class seats and the train is at maximum length.

This service is currently running with the maximum number of carriages.

5

07:02 service from Reading to London Paddington operated by First Great Western (load factor 164%, 381 passengers in excess of its capacity of 596).

Capacity includes seats and a standing allowance. Service has first class.

First Great Western has added 16 extra standard class seats to all its Class 165 turbo trains by declassifying First Class. On this particular service this will add an extra 32 seats to alleviate crowding. First Great Western is also adding an additional carriage to the 0709 service between Reading and London Paddington to further enhance capacity from December 2015.

6

06:35 service from Caterham to London Victoria operated by Southern (load factor 164%, 274 passengers in excess of its capacity of 430).

Capacity includes seats and a standing allowance. Service has no first class seats.

Southern introduced this train at the December 2011 timetable change and it primarily serves the fast East Croydon to Clapham Junction and London Victoria market. Currently there are no more carriages available to lengthen this train or to run any additional trains between East Croydon and London Victoria unless they were taken from other trains, but that would cause crowding elsewhere.

7

07:24 service from Brighton to Bedford operated by Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) (load factor 161%, 434 passengers in excess of its capacity of 716).

Capacity includes seats and a standing allowance. Service has first class and the train is at maximum length. GTR is using all available rolling stock prior to delivery of new longer trains.as part of the Thameslink Programme, which will increase the number of trains significantly that run between East Croydon, Blackfriars and other London Thameslink stations. Currently only 16 coaches in 2 trains arrive at London Blackfriars from Brighton via East Croydon between 0800 and 0849. Once the Thameslink Programme is completed from December 2018, this will be increased to 48 coaches in 4 trains from Brighton with many more coaches from East Croydon in trains from other routes.

8

18:00 service from Manchester Airport to Edinburgh operated by TransPennine Express (load factor 161%, 116 passengers in excess of its capacity of 191).

Capacity is based on seats only. Service has first class.

See note at 1 above.

9

07:32 service from Woking to London Waterloo operated by South West Trains (load factor 160%, 442 passengers in excess of its capacity of 738).

Capacity is based on seats only. Service has first class and the train is at maximum length.

These services are already formed of 12 cars - the longest possible train on this route - as are the services immediately before and after. South West Trains is continuing to increase capacity across the network where possible, including introducing new carriages on the suburban network.

10

07:02 service from Woking to London Waterloo operated by South West Trains (load factor 158%, 431 passengers in excess of its capacity of 738).

Capacity is based on seats only. Service has first class and the train is at maximum length.

See note at 9 above.

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Published 9 September 2015