MPs want action over train overcrowding

TWO Essex MPs have backed a proposal for an urgent Government review of the rail industry to try and reduce overcrowding in rush-hour trains.Their support was announced after a number of politicians in Westminster expressed “great concern” at Department for Transport (DfT) comments that said standing on trains on journeys of less than 30 minutes was “not unacceptable”.

By Roddy Ashworth

TWO Essex MPs have backed a proposal for an urgent Government review of the rail industry to try and reduce overcrowding in rush-hour trains.

Their support was announced after a number of politicians in Westminster expressed “great concern” at Department for Transport (DfT) comments that said standing on trains on journeys of less than 30 minutes was “not unacceptable”.

The statement was made by Dr Mike Mitchell, the director general of the Rail Group at the DfT, who went on to tell MPs it was not realistic that passengers could be guaranteed seats in the commuter peak times heading in and out of London.


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But yesterday West Chelmsford MP Simon Burns joined North Essex MP Bernard Jenkin in condemning his remarks and calling for Government action to help solve the problem of overcrowding.

The pair signed a House of Commons Early Day Motion proclaiming that “the problem of over-crowding is becoming endemic” and that “the latest round of fare increases means that passengers are being asked to pay more to travel in increasingly uncomfortable conditions.”

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Mr Jenkin said he was concerned about the problem of rail overcrowding in his constituency and also about Dr Mitchell's comments.

“I am concerned that this is the attitude of the Government's top rail official,” he said.

“Passengers in North Essex, particularly those commuting into London, face a daily battle just to get a seat for their journey to work.

“Overcrowding, along with fare increases and delays have meant many are understandably at the end of their tether.”

Mr Burns said: “Chelmsford is a major commuting station to London and it is disgraceful that after paying a substantial amount of money over the year to travel to work, too many people are then expected to stand for the privilege.

“It is time that the problem was addressed properly by putting on more trains in the rush hour to meet expanding capacity.”

Yesterday a spokesman for One Railway, which operates trains from Colchester and Chelmsford to London, said: “One Railway reviews and monitors timetables at regular intervals taking into account customer feedback and adjustments are made to reflect changes in passenger trends.

“Train service frequencies have increased over recent years, and like the rail industry in general, One is continuing to look at ways to cope with future growth.”

roddy.ashworth@eadt.co.uk

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