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Unread 02-10-2006, 15:19   #1
Colm Donoghue
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Default Rail firm to tackle overcrowding by taking out seats

Rail firm to tackle overcrowding by taking out seats

Paul Willis and agencies
Monday October 2, 2006
Guardian Unlimited

Rail passenger groups today expressed concern at plans to ease overcrowding on busy commuter trains by removing seats from carriages to create more space for standing.

South West Trains will carry out refurbishments on almost 500 passenger carriages, replacing more than one-fifth of the seats with extra handholds and creating so-called perches.

The new measures have been introduced as part of a commitment by the company, which is already Britain's most overcrowded franchise, to increase capacity on the service by 20% by 2016 to cope with rising numbers of commuters.

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Passenger groups said the changes to carriages could compromise comfort at a time when passengers were being asked to accept frequent fare increases.

"If we are to tackle the problem of under-capacity we need more trains and more services," Peter Lawrence, the president of the pressure group Railfuture, said.

"Removing seats might help squeeze a few more people on to the rush hour service, but it will do no more than plug the gap whilst greatly compromising passenger comfort."

Passenger numbers on many South West Trains commuter routes into London are already in breach of Department of Transport guidelines on acceptable levels of excess passengers.

A carriage is considered overcrowded if more than 35 people are standing for every 100 seats. However, some South West Trains services into Waterloo carry an average of up to 44 standing passengers.

Earlier this month, the government announced that South West Trains would remain under the control of the transport giant Stagecoach for the next ten years.

One of the main conditions of the deal - signed after months of wrangling - was a promise to deal with overcrowding.

In a bid to tackle the problem, the Department of Transport has put forward the idea of using double-deck trains, and a fleet of 17 four-carriage trains are expected to add an extra 4,500 seats.

The amount of floor space per passenger is currently calculated at 0.54 metres - roughly equivalent to three double-page spreads of a tabloid newspaper laid end to end. Carriages in which passengers have less space than this are considered to be overcrowded.

A spokeswoman for South West Trains said the carriage refurbishments, being carried out on Class 455 commuter trains, were emergency measures and were not seen as a long-term solution.

"This is a creative way of getting to grips with the situation right now," she added.

"Overcrowding is a problem that has been repeatedly raised ... while the government lacks the funds to carry out the changes that would solve it for good, we have to look at short-term measures."

The spokeswoman said the refurbishments would only apply to short-distance commuter trains, and denied they would make journeys less comfortable.

"If anything, this will enhance comfort," she said. "Our experience is that many passengers are happy to stand on short journeys, especially if it means they have more space."

A recent report identified rail customers in London and the south-east as the least satisfied in the UK.


http://www.guardian.co.uk/transport/...885887,00.html
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Unread 02-10-2006, 15:56   #2
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At least we know where SW trains got the idea from: IE removed seats from the DART several years ago to provide more (standing) room.

What really gets me is the PR <edit>rubbish</edit> which they put out in their announcement: "This is a creative way of getting to grips with the situation right now", and "If anything, this will enhance comfort". Makes one despise the spin-doctors and paid corporate liars they call "Public Relations".

EDITED: watch the language please

Last edited by PaulM : 11-10-2006 at 14:19.
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Unread 04-10-2006, 16:57   #3
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As unpleasant as a journey on a standing room only train is surely at least getting on that train is an improvement to watching it leave without you onboard because it was completely full? (a regular occurence on the dart)
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Unread 04-10-2006, 19:50   #4
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Craigybagel: I agree, but I could do without the PR nonsense about "enhancing comfort".
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Unread 05-10-2006, 18:52   #5
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true it is a bit annoying and we arent even the poor commuters involved! that said i find some of the stuff IE come out with even worse......
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