Commuters in Yorkshire face overcrowding

Overcrowding on trains is growing
Overcrowding on trains is growing
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SHEFFIELD has the most overcrowded trains outside London, according to new figures.

The city saw a rise in overcrowding last year with almost eight per cent of passengers standing in the morning rush hour and 6.5 per cent in the evening.

Overall, overcrowding was lower on services through Leeds but a higher proportion of passengers - around 12 per cent - were standing at peak times.

Trains can have large numbers of people standing but not deemed to be overcrowded depending on their design.

Embarassingly for Transport Minister Robert Goodwill, one of the 10 most overcrowded trains recorded last autumn was a Transpennine Express service between his constituency of Scarborough and Manchester Airport designed for 166 people carrying 259 passengers.

Another Transpennine Express service passing through Yorkshire, from Manchester Airport to Middlesbrough, carried 109 passengers over its capacity.

Shadow Transport Secretary Mary Creagh, the Wakefield MP, said: “As well as enduring inflation busting fares increases, this misery map shows the reality of life for commuters under David Cameron.

“Some service are carrying twice as many passengers as they should, a far cry from the ‘comfortable commuting’ which out-of-touch ministers imagine on the railway.”

The figures were published by the Department for Transport as it called on rail operators to make more space available.

Transport Minister Claire Perry said: “We are investing more than £38 billion in our railway delivering more trains, more seats and more services and we are pushing ahead with plans for a national high-speed rail network that will help solve the problem in the long term.

“I understand the frustration of rail passengers forced to stand on busy services and that is why I am calling on the operators to do more.”

But rail companies insisted they are already doing what they can.

A spokesman for the Rail Delivery Group, representing Network Rail and rail operators, said: “While the official measure of crowding during peak times now compared with then has remained largely unchanged despite a doubling in passenger journeys, we recognise that some services remain crowded and understand people’s frustration when they cannot get a seat.

“Because rail users are at the heart of what we do, the industry is already planning to increase peak-time seats into and out of many major cities by a third in the next five years.”

The overcrowding figures have been published in the same week that many Northern Rail passengers in Yorkshire have begun to pay higher fares as a result of the introduction of a new ‘evening peak’ which means off-peak tickets are no longer valid for evening rush hour travel on a number of services.