NEWS
24/07/2018 17:16 BST

'People Are Keeling Over': Overcrowded Trains Prompt Health Concerns During Heatwave

Almost 170,000 a day people are forced to stand up during their morning commute.

James D. Morgan via Getty Images

Overcrowding is on the rise on Britain’s trains, exacerbating health concerns in the current heatwave as packed and overheated trains cause people to faint in carriages and at stations. 

Figures released on Tuesday by the Department of Transport reveal that overcrowding has remained a problem for many of the nation’s biggest stations in the last year. 

On a normal weekday, almost 170,000 a day people are forced to stand up on trains during the morning commute into the biggest cities.

The five most overcrowded stations are in London, Cambridge, Manchester, Leeds and Cardiff.

During morning peak times, 23% of passengers stand on trains going into London. The data revealed that people arriving at Blackfriars in the morning are the most likely commuters to be standing in the country, with 36% of passengers unable to find a seat.

Mick Cash, general secretary of the RMT trade union, said: “Overcrowding is a major issue.

“We’re having to use extra staff to deal with the increased risk caused by the heatwave. People are keeling over on trains and platforms because of the heat.”

A spokesman for Southeastern trains said they were advising passengers to carry water, and had stocked up on bottles to give to passengers in case of emergencies. 

The spokesman said: “In September 2017 we introduced 68 extra air-conditioned carriages to boost capacity on our busiest services, providing 5,000 extra seats in the morning peak alone.”

London sees over a million passengers each day, with 55% of journeys being made in during the morning peak period.

The Department of Transport said: “Rail commuting trips have increased by over 50% between 2002 and 2016. 

“Not only has there been an increase in rail commuting trips per person over this period, but rail has increasingly been the preferred choice for commuting as fewer commuting trips are made by car.”

Commenting on the figures, Robert Nisbet, Regional Director at the Rail Delivery Group, which represents the rail industry, said: “We understand how important it is to our customers that they have a comfortable journey which is why we’re working on a plan to add 6,400 extra services a week and 7,000 new carriages by the early 2020s.”

Major cities across the country have actually seen a 1.4% decrease in the number of passengers in the past year, even though overcrowding has stayed at the same level.

It’s the first decline since the mid 1990’s.

The data, and the heat, comes after a gruelling few months rail commuters across much of the country, who have been hit what has been dubbed the “greatest timetable change for a generation”. 

The changes left Northern and Govia Thameslink Railway customers facing travel disruption from London and the South East to Newcastle, Nottingham, Merseyside and Greater Manchester.