Overcrowding on trains set to get worse, Labour warns
Overcrowding on trains has hit one of its highest levels and is set to get worse, Labour has claimed.
A study by the party suggested that the most overcrowded train routes are on average 187% over capacity.
The most overcrowded route in 2018 was the 4.22am train from Glasgow Central to Manchester Airport, with twice the number of passengers as the service was designed to carry, said Labour.
Overcrowding on peak train routes will increase in the coming years, it predicted.
Last year also saw cancellations or significantly late services at their highest level in 17 years, the study indicated.
Shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald said: “Under the Tories, fares have risen three times faster than average wages and severe disruption has blighted the network, meaning services are often delayed or cancelled, which in turn has led to overcrowding.
“It’s outrageous that passengers will be hit with yet another above-inflation fares rise following such a miserable year on the railway.
“Making passengers pay more in real terms to travel on increasingly overcrowded trains is simply not sustainable.
“The Government’s blind obsession with privatisation is putting the future of the railway at risk.
“Labour will do what’s best for passengers and taxpayers by taking the railway back into public ownership in order to improve services and cap fares.”
A spokesman for the Rail Delivery Group, which represents train operators and Network Rail, said: “We know people want more comfortable journeys and money from fares is crucial to underpinning over £13 billion of private sector investment in 7,000 new and refurbished-like-new carriages.
“This will mean more seats, air-conditioning, WiFi and improved accessibility for millions of people right across Britain.”
Mick Cash, general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union, which is involved in a long-running dispute over guards on trains, said: “The last thing we need on Britain’s rammed out and overcrowded trains is to be axing safety-critical staff and that is why RMT will be continuing the fight for the guard guarantee on Northern and South Western Railways into the New Year.
“Services are at breaking point and in those dangerous conditions removing the staff who are the eyes and ears of the service is gross negligence.”
A Department for Transport spokesman said: “We are investing £48 billion into modernising our rail network, to relieve overcrowding and deliver significant improvements in performance, punctuality and capacity.
“The first significant national investment as part of this plan is starting now on Transpennine and is providing new rolling stock across the country to improve passenger journeys.
“Privatisation has reversed the decline seen under British Rail, where passenger numbers fell and stations and routes closed but we have acknowledged that 20 years on we need to review the position.
“That’s why we have set up the Williams Review to look into the whole rail network.
“Our investment in new projects like HS2 and East-West Rail is also creating the space our rail network needs for the future.”