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.
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.
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.
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.