4:40pm Friday 6th July 2012
By Peter Truman
Train overcrowding in Sussex is getting worse, new figures have revealed.
Both Southern and First Capital Connect saw overcrowding on their services increase in 2011.
Morning commuters on Southern, which runs trains to London Victoria, are worst affected.
Figures for what the Department for Transport described as a “typical autumn day” showed peak morning services had 5.6% more passengers than the service could handle – up from 5.1% in 2010.
Evening commuters were on trains 3.8% above their capacity, up from 3.5% in 2010.
First Capital Connect
For First Capital Connect passengers, peak morning trains were 3.2% above capacity and peak evening trains were 1.4% above capacity, both up compared to 2010.
Southern runs 19 peak weekday services from Brighton to London between 7am and 10am and can seat 550 passengers on its eight-carriage services.
First Capital Connect runs ten services each morning from Brighton to Bedford, with four four-carriage trains, five eight-carriage trains and one 12-carriage train, with about 272 seats per carriage.
David Sidebottom, the director of consumer group Passenger Focus, said: “Overcrowding is a daily struggle for many Sussex commuters.
“Significant, sustained, long-term investment is necessary to not only reduce overcrowding, but also to ensure that it doesn’t get worse if passenger numbers increase as predicted.”
Train companies said the figures represented the increasing popularity of the railways.
A spokesman for First Capital Connect said: “Since 2006 when we took over the franchise, we’ve added 36 more trains and almost 30% more seats to the Thameslink route so these figures reveal the ever-increasing popularity of rail travel. What we need now is more trains to run longer services and that is on the way as we assist the Government in ordering a new fleet of some 1,200 new carriages to run on a new expanded network.”
Southern said the number of carriages on Brighton to London trains would increase from eight to ten from December 2013 to try to meet demand.
A spokesman said: “We appreciate passengers’ desire for a seat on what are very busy services, and we are doing everything that we can to provide additional capacity where it is most needed, bearing in mind we have a finite amount of rolling stock and the very high demand at peak times.”
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