While much of the ire in the North towards train operators and rail network bosses since last May’s botched timetable rollout has been rightly focused on the vast numbers of delayed and cancelled services, new figures have today highlighted another major issue that regularly faces commuters; that of overcrowding.
The most overcrowded routes often carry almost twice the number of passengers as the service was designed to transport, with trains serving Leeds among the worst-affected in the country.
The figures, taken from analysis conducted by the Labour Party, merely confirm the daily reality of train travel for thousands of commuters in Yorkshire who are frequently forced to stand in uncomfortably-cramped conditions but nevertheless will add to their frustration at the latest fare rises which have come into force this week.
The anger at the annual fare increase has been particularly pronounced this January given it has followed a year of chaos on the network, combined with wage increases failing to keep pace with ever-growing pressures on household finances.
In the wake of the outcry, Rail Delivery Group regional director Robert Nisbet has outlined how the additional money from the fare rises will be spent, promising to introduce almost 100 new trains on northern routes and finally removing antiquated Pacers – which date back to the 1980s and were former buses converted into makeshift trains – from the region’s railways this year.
But commuters could be forgiven for a certain level of cynicism, given operator Northern admitted this week it hasn’t yet started retiring Pacer trains from the Yorkshire network despite previously saying it was going to begin phasing them out before the end of 2018.
It is yet another indictment of a rail network which is quite simply creaking at the seams.