Paying £120 plus to stand up on a train

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I recently enjoyed a trip to Cardiff for a friend’s wedding.

With me knowing from experience how long it takes to drive down to the Welsh capital, having been at university there, my husband and I decided we would take the train.

We subsequently bought two return tickets from Clitheroe to Cardiff Central rail station for the princely sum of £120 plus.

Now for that kind of money I think most people would expect an excellent service – and at the very least a seat!

But, unfortunately, twice during our journey my husband was forced to stand for more than 20 minutes in an unpleasantly overcrowded train carriage.

It was only when recalling this story to my mother-in-law that she queried how surely such overcrowding on trains must be against health and safety legislation – after all, everything else seems to be in this day and age.

She referred to the strict capacity limits set for local bus services, which vary depending on the bus company, but roughly allow around 27 people seated, 15 standing and one wheelchair user.

So why on earth don’t we see the same signs referring to capacity in a train carriage?

On further investigation back at the office, I consulted the Office of Rail Regulation’s website and discovered the following.

“There is no legal limit on the number of passengers that can travel in any given train coach, as trains differ from other modes of transport – most notably buses and aeroplanes – because of the heavy engineering design involved. This permits trains to operate effectively and safely even when fully loaded to maximum capacity.

“But despite being uncomfortable, and at times making passengers feel unsafe, there is no conclusive evidence linking crowding on trains with anything other than low level health and safety risks to individual passengers. However, we continue to review the available evidence of links between overcrowded trains and ill-health effects on passengers.”

Is it just me or do other people think that is a load of tosh!

If any system of transport is involved in an accident surely it is better that vehicle is not overcrowded.

But apart from that, why, as consumers, should we be expected to pay the full ticket price when on some points of the journey we will have no access to a seat? Funnily enough I wasn’t offered reserved seating when I booked our tickets. The ticket office staff obviously knew something I didn’t!