Ministers warned against creating 'Ryanair on the tracks' amid comfort concerns

Train passengers should not feel they have to bring their own inflatable cushions, the rail minister has said amid concerns over uncomfortable seats.

Conservative MP Iain Stewart warned against developing "Ryanair on the tracks" as he raised complaints over cramped seating on newer trains.

Minister Jo Johnson, in his reply, insisted comfort of passengers is taken into consideration and noted seats "normally become more comfortable over time through use".

Speaking in the Commons, Mr Stewart (Milton Keynes South) said: "It is wonderful that so many new technologically superior trains are being introduced on Britain's railways, yet many passengers are complaining that some of these trains have seats that are cramped and uncomfortable.

"We don't want to have Ryanair on the tracks.

"Could the minister do all he can to ensure that the specifications for these new trains include passenger comfort at their heart?"

Mr Johnson replied: "Train seating is required to address both the comfort of passengers and to conform to relevant design standards, which include addressing fire safety and crash-worthiness.

"We absolutely don't want passengers feeling that they need to bring in their own inflatable cushions, and I'm sure you will take comfort from the fact that seats normally become more comfortable over time through use."

Rail minister Jo Johnson speaks during transport questions in the House of Commons (
Rail minister Jo Johnson speaks during transport questions in the House of Commons (

Conservative former minister Bob Neill later criticised Southeastern for a lack of real-time updates to passengers during the snow.

He told MPs: "This week, of all weeks, rail passengers want up-to-date information about delays and cancellations.

"Southeastern trains' website has failed to provide any live time updates in any single rush hour this week - today included."

Mr Johnson said it was right to expect Southeastern to provide "prompt, accurate and timely" information.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling apologised to Southern passengers at Redhill station affected by an overcrowded rail replacement service last weekend, described as "potentially dangerous" by Conservative Jeremy Quin (Horsham).

Mr Grayling replied: "Can I say very clearly and unequivocally what took place last Sunday was unacceptable.

"On behalf of the Government I would apologise. The company has already done so. We have made our views known to the company in the strongest possible terms - this was unacceptable, lessons have to be learned.

"It will not, it must not happen again."