Thousands forced to stand as train overcrowding worsens

© Olilee2 | - Train At Clapham Junction Photo-2

Photo: © Olilee2 |

Around a quarter of the 563,000 people who arrive at London’s main rail terminals each weekday morning on their commute to work have to stand for their journey. That’s 139,000 people each day who don’t get a seat in exchange for their ticket.

The data was released by the Department of Transport and gathered by the train operators in autumn 2014. It shows that the number of people standing on trains in the morning rush hour has gone up by more than 15% since autumn 2013.

Of the 139,000 people who are forced to stand 84,000 of them arrive in London in the peak hour 08.00 to 08.59. The numbers are better on the way home. Only 78,000 are standing during the evening peak period as journeys home from work are more staggered than arrival times.

Paddington Station has the highest rates of overcrowding on arriving trains each weekday morning. And the train operator with the worst rates is First Great Western.

Train overcrowding is measure in a statistic called Passengers in Excess of Capacity (PiXC). This shows the proportion of standard class passengers in excess of the capacity of the service at its busiest point.

Train overcrowding London

The rate at Paddington in the morning rush hour is 13.5%. Trains arriving at Blackfriars and Moorgate are 10.6% over capacity, and the rate of overcrowding has increased at all London’s main train terminals except Victoria and Euston since 2013. The largest increase in the over capacity rate was at Moorgate.

train overcrowding london rise

The average rate of overcrowding for all trains at London terminals in the morning rush hour is 5.4% and slightly lower at 4.1% if morning and evening are counted together. This is directly in line with a 4.2% increase in passenger journeys between autumn 2013 and 2014. Much of the increase in is due to the improvement in the economy which has resulted in demand returning to pre-recession levels due to a growth in employment in central London.  Outside London, Manchester is the city with the worst rates.

Train overcrowding national


The one service that emerges with a good statistical record from these rather grim figures is London Overground. It has no over capacity rates on morning or evening services, but many of its trains have fewer seats and more standing areas, increasing their capacity but not necessarily the comfort of the passengers. It has the highest proportion of passengers standing of any train operator but they are all within the train capacity limit.

Source data

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Tube Delays: Northern Line

commuters tube escalatorThe Northern Line, formerly known as the misery line, has seen the best rate of improvement over the past decade in reducing the level of delays.

Transport for London measures delays in what it calls Lost Customer Hours (LCH). These are calculated by multiplying the delays in minutes by the number of passengers. TfL records all delays over 2 minutes. It uses the financial year from April to March and splits the year in 13 equal periods for performance measurement.

Data in the London Underground Performance Almanac for the last full year shows there was an average of 139,252 Lost Customer Hours per period on the Northern line.

LCH NOrthern

Comparing its recent performance with the average for 2003/06 shows a reduction in LCH of 76%, the best record on the network.

The line has one of the highest proportions of disruption caused by passengers. This accounted for 27% of the delays in 2014/15 compared to 17% across the network.

Delays caused by what TfL calls “customers and public action” include commuters taking ill, items dropped on the track and people jumping in front of trains. Documents from TfL show that more than 20 people a year kill themselves on the Underground.

Source data

See also

Central Line leads the lost hours league table of your Tube delays

Strikes are a commuting disaster, but what delays your daily Tube journey?

Passenger data reveals busiest stations where Tube strike will hit hardest