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

See also

Long distance commuters could fill Albert Hall 13 times

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

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


Tube Delays: Victoria Line

Tube mapPassengers are the main cause of delays on the Victoria Line. Members of the public were behind 35% of the time lost to disruption on the line in 2014/15. That’s double the rate for any other line.

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 published by TfL reveal that more than 20 people a year kill themselves on the Underground.

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 129,010 Lost Customer Hours per period on the Victoria Line. This makes it one of the better performers.

LCH Victoria

The Victoria Line was the first to introduce automated operations where the train is controlled by computer overseen by a driver. These types of automated systems are also in use on the Central and Jubilee lines but only on the Victoria Line do they feature as a significant cause of Lost Customer Hours. They were blamed for 13% of the delays last year on this line.

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


Tourists biggest users of Boris Bikes

Tourists and casual customers not London commuters are the big users of the city’s cycle hire scheme, the so-called Boris Bikes.

Boris bikes

Data analysis by Urbs reveals that in 2014 more journeys began from the bike docks around Hyde Park, one of London’s busiest tourist and leisure spots, than the combined total of journeys from 4 of the capital’s busiest railway stations – Waterloo, Liverpool Street, Kings Cross and Victoria.

In 2014 (figures Jan to Oct) 8.3 million journeys were taken using the bikes. Of those, 749,000 began at the Hyde Park bike racks – Hyde Park Corner, Albert Gate, Black Lion Gate, and Kensington Gate. That compares to 214,000 journeys that started at Liverpool Street and 213,000 at Waterloo.

The data also indicates that many users are taking the bikes for a leisurely ride rather than using them to get to a specific destination. More than half of the journeys that started in Hyde Park also ended there.

The numbers gathered by TfL show that commuters arriving from out of town into the city’s main rail terminals are the biggest users of the bikes in the morning rush hour between 7-9am. In that period the top 5 hire locations are all at the big stations, including 3 racks at Waterloo. And users are pushing the bikes back into the racks in the City. The top 5 dropping off points in the morning rush hour are all in the financial district. The average journey time in this period is 16 minutes.

Later in the day the average journey time goes up to 24 minutes and the focus of activity moves west. Across the day the top 3 busiest locations are around the entrances to Hyde Park.

27,000 journeys are taken each day, on average. Across the year it varies from a January average of 15,000 to the peak in July with a daily rate of 35,000. As might be expected the numbers go down on rainy days, though it seems the commuters are hardier folk than the visitors. Weather data shows that on January 29th 2014 it poured with rain and bike journeys dropped by 30% from 15,000 daily average to 10,000. It also rained heavily on August 25th, at the peak of the London tourist season when many Londoners are away on holiday. The 30,000 daily average plummeted to just 6,000, a fall of 80 per cent.

The cycle hire scheme was introduced on July 30th 2010. The Mayor, Boris Johnson, said at the time that it would transform travel for Londoners and visitors.  The data suggests that the tourists have got the message, and commuters who travel into the city to work are the other significant group of users. But Londoners living outside zone 1, who are helping to subsidise the scheme through their taxes, don’t appear to see the bikes as part of the home to work solution.

There are currently 11,500 bikes and 748 docking stations. The scheme was extended to the west and south west of the city in 2013. But many of the new locations are among the least used, including Clapham, Shepherd’s Bush, and East Putney. The Clapham Common site takes the low usage award with just 469 hires last year – an average of 1.28 per day.

Cycling has grown remarkably in the city in recent years. In 2014 600,000 journeys were taken each day by bicycle. The 27,000 daily Boris Bike journeys make up a fraction of that. For most Londoners getting on your bike means buying your own rather than tackling the miles across the sprawling city on a chunky 23 Kg machine.

Source data:

Cycle hire numbers 

Cycle journeys in London