Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Rule Change 'Abolishes' Overcrowding on Trains

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Rule Change 'Abolishes' Overcrowding on Trains

Article excerpt

Byline: NICHOLAS CECIL

GOVERNMENT officials have abolished train overcrowding by changing its definition.

The Department for Transport, which has promised extra carriages, has rewritten the guidelines on the acceptable number of people standing.

Formerly, it was considered acceptable to have 10 people standing for every 100 seats. Under new guidelines it is all right to have 30 standing per 100 seats.

Train companies will be able to pack in more passengers without t heir services being labelled "overcrowded".

The news comes as commuters were warned of years of "cattle-truck" conditions despite inflation-busting fare rises.

The National Audit Office said passengers would endure packed trains until 2014, when 1,300 extra carriages and longer platforms will be introduced.

It gave the warning after Centro, the public transport authority in the West Midlands, complained that the new definition of overcrowding would result in worse conditions that would force people off trains and into cars.

To date, only 423 of the 1,300 carriages have been ordered from the manufacturer and none has been delivered. A Department of Transport spokesman said he was unable to give details of when they would arrive but that they should be in place by 2014. At the same time, fares are rising to deter passengers from travelling on the most crowded trains.

A spokesman for the National Audit Office said: "Most passengers can expect to pay higher regulated and unregulated fares in the future." The audit office highlighted how some tickets had jumped in price by 20 per cent.

It also warned train companies could enjoy a "windfall of extra revenue" if income targets were not changed.

MPs said commuters would be angry at the failure to ease overcrowding more quickly under the Transport Department's ?10 billion programme. …

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