Commuter spends £6,000 to travel from London Liverpool Street to Ipswich in a mop cupboard
06:00 25 January 2016
For years passengers have complained about the difficulty in finding a seat on rush-hour trains – but one Ipswich commuter has found the ideal bolt-hole.
He regularly heads for the staff compartment and makes himself comfortable next to the mops and bucket – train staff now recognise him in his regular seat.
The commuter, who did not want his name published, has been travelling to London five days a week for more than 17 years – paying over £6,000 a year for a season ticket.
He said: “I can usually get an official seat on the way in during the morning rush hour, but in the evening the train I catch, the 6.30, is usually so full there’s no space.
“I found this some time ago and I use it quite often. No one seems to mind but it isn’t great.”
He said that trains had become busier over the years and it was increasingly difficult to find a seat, especially on rush-hour services heading out of London.
He works in the City of London – and said some of his colleagues still felt his journey to and from work was relatively easy.
“Those who come from the south have to catch a bus, a train and then the Tube. They think it’s luxury that I only have to catch the train!”
A spokesman for train operator Abellio Greater Anglia said the cabin was the crew compartment – and contained the intercom for the senior conductor and should not be used by members of the public.
However, the carriages these compartments are in are currently being converted and the crew compartments are being removed. He said they would go from having 24 first-class seats and a catering area to having 54 standard-class seats – significantly improving the capacity.
“Two of the seven vehicles of this type operating have already been converted and on completion of the programme later this year, this will provide over 600,000 more standard seats a year (or 2,500 more seats a day) on our intercity services.
“We are also continuing to work with regional stakeholders as part of the Great Eastern Main Line Taskforce in making the case for the investment in infrastructure and new rolling stock that we all wish to see.”
He said most nights there would be space for all passengers to sit on trains leaving London, although accepted that there could be occasions when there was standing room only – and hoped the refurbishment programme would help address that issue.
The line has not had significant investment in rolling stock for decades, and the new franchise due to start in October should herald the introduction of new trains with improved capacity.
The last new franchise in the region was unveiled in 2004 and contained no new trains – since then there has been a short-term franchise which also did not include new trains, although it did allow existing carriages to be updated.
Ipswich MP Ben Gummer who has been part of the task force trying to improve rail services found the image amusing – but said it showed up the problem faced by commuters.
He said: “This shows exactly why we need to see hundreds of millions of pounds invested in new rolling stock and new track. It is not right that people who pay a large amount for season tickets should feel the need to sit somewhere like this.”