St Albans train line included in Department for Transport chart of most overcrowded services

People attemtping to board an overcrowded Thameslink service. Picture: Daisy Cooper.

People attemtping to board an overcrowded Thameslink service. Picture: Daisy Cooper. - Credit: Archant

Two train services through St Albans, Harpenden and Radlett are in the top ten most overcrowded in England and Wales.

The Department of Transport (DfT) published the list this week which features the 16.26 Bedford to Brighton service at seventh in spring 2017, while the 06.57 Brighton to Bedford was ninth in autumn of that year.

The leader of Harpenden Thameslink Commuters Emily Ketchin said: “The issue of overcrowding is a chronic one, and has been made significantly worst at Harpenden after May 20 as we have lost a third of our services 06.30 to 08.30, the time most people need to travel. We had 23 trains in that period and now we only have 15.

“The picture at Harpenden is even more bleak when you look at the statistics for our fast and semi-fast services where we have lost 42 per cent of trains, from 19 down to 11.

“In the meantime, the Thameslink Express Trains whizz past Harpenden half-loaded.

“I call, again, upon Thameslink to place immediate stop orders on those trains to stop them at Harpenden and upon Chris Grayling to issue an instruction to make that stop order permanent. The Harpenden train problem has to be solved.”

According to the DfT, the capacity for the Thameslink train’s standard passenger class is 401, but the train was loaded with 708 passengers, 307 passengers over capacity, in spring 2017.

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This increased to 477 passengers over capacity on the 06.57 service in autumn.

A spokesperson for Govia Thameslink Railway, which runs services between Bedford and Brighton, said: “Passengers rightly expect to be able to travel to work in comfort and we are sorry this was not always the case on the services highlighted in this survey.

“Our trains operate on the busiest part of the country’s rail network and to meet demand and plan for the future we have since introduced more and longer trains, carrying more passengers on the busiest sections many of these trains run through.”

These DfT figures only account for sitting room, not standing room, and Govia say once the Thameslink Programme is completed, there will be 40 per cent more carriages on the 16.26 service, and they are building up to a 24 per cent increase in carriages on the 06.27 service.