Overcrowding on trains – looking at those figures

Overcrowding on trains

Overcrowding on trains

Crowded trains

The latest figures on overcrowding on trains may not come as a surprise to commuters on Britain’s increasingly busy rail network.

Gwyn Topham observed in the Guardian:

‘Three London Midland evening rush-hour trains from Euston to Birmingham on the west coast mainline featured in the 10 most packed services, possibly underlining the government’s argument that the planned High Speed 2 route is needed to add capacity.’

London Euston had 3/10 busiest services

Several services are enduring loading factors of 160% with London Euston-Birmingham New Street accounting for three of the most crowded services.

This follows just a week after HS2 opponents claimed that trains leaving Euston were only 52% occupied.

This was selective and failed to account for London Midland services as reflected by these figures. An earlier post dealt with this here.

Opponents have responded by suggesting stations between London and Birmingham are ‘not relevant’ as HS2 will not stop at these stations.

This is entirely misleading as HS2 will release capacity on the existing West Coast Main Line benefiting commuters from Milton Keynes, Watford etc.

Chris Howe, of HS2NW, has written an informative post on the topic here.

Benefits for Northampton/MK

As Jim Steer from Greengauge 21 pointed out:

‘It is for the commuters of Northampton and MK (and many others) that the capacity relief that HS2 would provide is so desperately needed.

‘By the end of the decade, even with incremental improvements suggested by 51M, we will be turning people away.

Seats or ‘rail capacity’

Of course, it is important not to confuse the issue of seats and ‘rail capacity’ as is so often the case.

Railway Gazette International senior editor Nick Kingsley deals with this issue in detail in a blog here.

However, HS2 opponents were keen to point to the 52% occupancy figures leaving Euston and this figure was quoted by Andrew Gilligan in the Telegraph and Andrew Neil on Newsnight, among others, so it is only right these latest overcrowding figures (ignored by opponents) are also highlighted.

We do not say they are the best measure, but as HS2 opponents have consistently pointed to seat occupancy and were still doing so this morning we will draw attention to these load factors for comparison.

The 10 most crowded

For the record, here are the 10 most crowded services:

1) 07:44 First Great Western Henley-on-Thames to London Paddington – load factor 180%

2) 07:32 South West Trains Woking to London Waterloo – load factor 164%

3) 18:13 London Midland London Euston to Birmingham New Street – load factor 162%

4) 16:48 London Midland London Euston to Birmingham New Street – load factor 160%

5) 06:30 First Great Western Banbury to London Paddington – load factor 158%

6) 07:55 London Midland Stourbridge Junction to Stratford-upon-Avon – load factor 157%

7) 06:23 First TransPennine Express Manchester Airport to Middlesbrough – load factor 155%

8) 18:17 National Express East Anglia London Liverpool Street to Shenfield – load factor 154%

9) 07:14 South West Trains Alton to London Waterloo – load factor 152%

10) 17:46 London Midland London Euston to Birmingham New Street – load factor 152%

Source: Department for Transport, autumn 2011

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3 Responses to Overcrowding on trains – looking at those figures

  1. Chris Neville-Smith says:

    It might also be worth pointing out that in addition to the three services that stand to be relieved by HS2, the new GWML trains, Crossrail, and the Northern Hub between them stand to relieve another four of the above services.

    Although I could not possibly imagine who would use the argument that HS2 causes all the crowding on local/regional services to be ignored.

  2. Pingback: Mr Redwood’s Diary – Why it’s wrong to base an argument on one journey | Go-HS2

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