Overcrowding hits record high on Britain’s failing privatised lines
by Felicity Collier
COMMUTERS are facing the worst overcrowding on railways since records began, with many peak-time routes running at nearly 200 per cent over capacity.
Passengers on Britain’s 10 most overcrowded peak routes are packed onto trains which are on average 190 per cent in excess of capacity, according to figures published by Labour today.
This represents an increase of over 30 per cent since Department of Transport (DfT) statistics began in 2011.
The analysis of DfT figures showed that the most overcrowded route was the 7.16am Southern service from East Grinstead to London Bridge, which packs an average of 1,300 people onto trains designed to carry just 640.
Labour warned that if the trend continues, by the end of this parliament the 10 routes could become even more rammed with trains running on average at 225 per cent over capacity.
Shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald said: “Nobody should have to suffer being crammed into dangerously full carriages as part of their daily commute, but under the Tories passengers face this prospect, paying through the nose for the dubious privilege of being crammed into ever-fuller trains.
“With fares up by 27 per cent since 2010 and last week’s cancellation of promised electrification across England and Wales, it’s clear that passengers are paying more for less under the Tories.”
The government was accused of breaking years of promises last week after it scrapped plans to electrify multiple lines in England and Wales due to budget overruns.
Labour has pledged to renationalise railways and create a new body which would have overall responsibility of Britain’s rail networks.
RMT general secretary Mick Cash branded the situation created by the Tories a “national scandal,” saying: “British people are paying the highest fares in Europe to travel on rammed out and unreliable services while the private train companies are laughing all the way to the bank.
“With the government scrapping vital new upgrade, renewals and electrification projects, the chaos on our railways is set to worsen as surging demand clashes with rank profiteering.
“The only way to end this racket is through public ownership.”
A DfT spokesperson said: “Rail passenger journeys have more than doubled in the last 20 years. We are investing £40 billion in our railways and by the end of 2019 we will have more than 3,700 new carriages on the network.”