Complaining about overcrowding - is it worth the bother?

Discussion in 'UK Railway Discussion' started by randomuser, 25 Oct 2011.

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  1. randomuser

    randomuser New Member

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    I was travelling on Sat 22 Oct on the London Euston to Birmingham New Street service. Because the train was just four carriages (which is unbeliveable due to it being the start of the half term) the train was severly overcrowded. People were crammed in the door ways and standing in the aisles.

    I was unable to get a seat until I arrived at Northampton, which meant I had to stand for 1hr 20 minutes.

    I think that it is bad that London Midland failed to put on 8 carriages, like it normally does and having to stand all this time.

    Just wondering is it worth complaining to London Midland. I feel I should receive some compensation because it made my journey an ordeal just as much as a delay would and would also like them to take notice. Or would I very likely get a standard reply.
     
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  3. HST Power

    HST Power Established Member

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    Join the club mate, join the club.
     
  4. DaveNewcastle

    DaveNewcastle Established Member Fares Advisor

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    The UK suffers from a chronic shortage of rolling stock and a low-level of investment in the Railways. The amount of stock available to each operator is defined by the Department of Transport and even where an operator does have some operational flexibility, that too is subject to scrutiny and approval by the Department and/or one of its arms-length management Companies.

    While you may indeed write with dissatisfaction to the Operator (who need to be informed of their failure to meet passenger expectations), I would recommend that you write to your MP emphasising the failure of the Government to allocate stock to the Operators whose paying passengers are suffering.

    (Its surprising that you only have the one journey to complain about, some on here suffer over crowding, cancellations and acute delays on a regular basis!)

    As to whether 'it is worth the bother' or not, no, its probably not, but then if we didn't let our elected members know what we needed, then we'd never get anywhere! (And you'll get a reply written on nice House of Commons stationery).
     
  5. knight2004

    knight2004 Member

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    Of course they don't plan properly for half term, the other night Friday Euston packed a super voyager train to Preston around 630pm advertised as 5 car only- what a joke!!!!!! I caught the 1913 to Birmingham that had a good number of people but wasn't as overcrowded as i expected although I did pay the extra 6 quid and go 1st class just for a seat a table and a plug socket it was well worth it.
     
  6. HST Power

    HST Power Established Member

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    If you write to your MP, you need to give them a few days to respond. Also (I speak from expierence), if they don't reply, it's not because they haven't read your email, it's because they're not interested! So don't hold your breath!
     
  7. Greenback

    Greenback Emeritus Moderator

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    DaveNewcastle has offered sage advice as usual. I would like to add my support to the suggestion of writing to your MP, although little usually happens when you do, at least in my experience.

    I would also like to add that although the TOC's are in many ways hamstrung by the franchise system and DfT, letting them know your feelings may help them to decide how to allocate stock on a day to basis. Passenger feedback certainly helped with ATW, who used to put a 2 car 175 on the 1705 service from Swansea to West Wales. Following representations, they now put a 3 car unit on that service. It is still packed, but at least now no one is left on the platform.
     
  8. randomuser

    randomuser New Member

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    Thanks for all your helpful advice so far.

    I could write to my MP but not being a regular passenger I would imagine he wouldn't take notice. If I were a commuter paying an annual season ticket and encountered overcrowding on a daily basis (relating the issue to the Govt's lack of funding as Dave wisely pointed out) then he might do something.

    When I have travelled before down to London (mainly at the weekends due to peak fares being way too expensive) the trains have been alright. Just wondered whether it might be a one off. The cynic in me suspects they cut the carriages to recoup the travel anywhere on the network for £10 promotion that just kicked off.
     
  9. michael769

    michael769 Established Member

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    Your vote has just the same impact in an election as a regular commuter's does. It's not who complains it is how many that complain that they care about.
     
  10. randomuser

    randomuser New Member

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    That's very true. I can see your point.
     
  11. Arglwydd Golau

    Arglwydd Golau Established Member

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    I was thinking about this very issue yesterday when travelling on ATW 11h22 from Birmingham to Bangor, two car 158 overloaded from Shrewsbury and worse from Wrexham/Chester. Many of the passengers clearly travelling because of half-term, many seats were reserved, but passengers couldn't get to their seats easily and then others were sitting in them etc etc....what does get me cross are people - as the couple opposite me did - who sit on the aisle seats, have their luggage on the window seats and studiously (they were clearly from Bangor University) ignore those struggling up the aisle.....as to complaining, I don't believe there is any spare stock, is there?
     
  12. cle

    cle Established Member

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    I think sometimes the railways genuinely forget that weekends can be as busy and if not busier on some routes. And multiples of 2, 3 and 4 car sets are needed!

    4 car trains on Thameslink running to Luton, Gatwick and Brighton - all huge weekend destinations - is a joke. But the railway only exists for commuters and people travelling London - Reading/Oxford/Cambridge/Birmingham/Bristol/Manchester/Leeds.
     
  13. exile

    exile Established Member

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    In the "good old days" stock not in use for commuter journeys was utilised to strengthen holiday/weekend services. Harder to do now with incompatibility between different units and TOCs not co-operating.
     
  14. 142094

    142094 Established Member

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    One quick point is that having a ticket doesn't guarantee you a seat - this is where I suspect many people complaining to a TOC will fall down on, as the TOC concerned can simply turn around and say this.

    As has been previously mentioned, most parts of the country have higher demand levels than were predicted and there isn't the stock to go around.
     
  15. Greenback

    Greenback Emeritus Moderator

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    There is a bit of a difference between having to stand and the jam packed state of some of the trains around the UK. When a train at 1430 in the afternoon (on a school day) is full with people standing in the vestibules (not through choice), it's clear that there is a serious mismatch between capacity and demand.

    The OP wasn't so much complaining about not getting a seat for 80 mins as I read their post, they are more concerned about the way people were packed in. Obviously, this has come as a bit of surprise to the OP, but as has been pointed out, this is not uncommon in many parts of the UK.
     
  16. Mojo

    Mojo Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    London Midland's Commercial Director said on Twitter: ''Yes of course it is worth your while. We very much welcome feedback on our service as it helps us to plan and improve. Alex''
     
  17. Cherry_Picker

    Cherry_Picker Established Member

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    As a member of staff I always report overcrowding to control and they always seem to take the reports seriously. I always think it is worth complaining if you feel you have had a poor service and in this world of social media it has never been easier to get in touch with a TOC.
    Yes, it is highly likely that nothing will come of it, companies are not going to re-diagram stock as a result of a single incident of overcrowding (which may have been caused by reasons the people on the overcrowded train are unaware of) but if the same train gets overcrowded every single day then something generally does get done, as sometimes the specifics of overcrowding are not known by the people in train planning. They can only have educated guesses as to what the busiest trains will be.
     
  18. DaveNewcastle

    DaveNewcastle Established Member Fares Advisor

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    Thanks for that. Its what I expacted but its helpful to have it confirmed.
    This point of view disconnects the OP's request 'should I complain' from their 'is it worth it'.
    I strongly agree that the relevant personnel in any company or agency will want to be aware of any excess of demand over supply.
    While it may not result in any change, the accumulated intelligence 'from the front line' is vital in the formulation of strategies and business plans for the future.
     
  19. Badger

    Badger Member

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    If I reported every time my train was ridiculously overcrowded they'd have to hire extra staff to handle the complaints!
     
  20. Solent&Wessex

    Solent&Wessex Established Member

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    It can do. There used to a regular Fridays only diagram on one of our routes that was only 2 cars. Whilst it was just about acceptable Monday to Thursday, it was also far far busier on Fridays and folk got left behind. It is now booked 4 cars following feedback. Admittedly it sometimes isn't due to a general unit shortage, but it is 4 cars more often that not. It is still packed solid, but at least everyone can get on.
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    This is very true. On some of the routes I work on we have 4 trains per hour Monday to Saturday. On Sunday, which is far busier than Monday to Friday, there are only 2 / 3 trains per hour which aren't strengthened so are wedged full for hours on end, often leaving folk behind. Yet generally speaking little is done about it while you go sailing past empty units sat on the depot. I always says it is because there are a) no first class business passengers and b) no managers around, so there are not remotely interested in what cattle class conditions are on offer.
     
  21. martinsh

    martinsh Established Member

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    The more I think about this situation, the angrier I get.

    Last Saturday was the first day of London Midland’s “£10 Go Anywhere” promotion. So, since it was sold out for that day, they must have known their services would be busy. And journeys to / from Euston are the obvious ones for people to use their tickets on – so might it not have been a good idea to strengthen those services ? After all, since it was a weekend, there was obviously spare stock available !

    It was bad enough travelling on that day from Crewe to Liverpool. I had to stand all the way – actually I sat on the floor as far as Runcorn. And the crowding was so bad that some people missed their stop at South Parkway and got carried on to Lime Street. [ though that wass mainly due to their own stupidity]

    Also, the latest LM timetable for Euston – Northampton shows how many coaches each service normally is formed of. So, if the service the OP travelled on was short formed as per the timetable, that makes it even worse.
     
  22. Swr28

    Swr28 Member

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    Where do u live and who is your MP?
     
  23. 142094

    142094 Established Member

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    Comment I was referring to was this one:

    I've had to stand for much longer than this before - but of course I knew that I had chosen to travel on a service where I wasn't guaranteed a seat due to the time.

    As I'm sure most people are aware, trains have crush loads - however the general public don't know much about this. You often hear people say it is unsafe (when it is perfectly safe) - but they'll still get on.
     
  24. Greenback

    Greenback Emeritus Moderator

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    I know, that's why I referred to 80 mins. What I was saying was that that wasn't their primary concern, judging by their choice of words in the rest of the post.

    The whole point is that it is not that unpleasant to stand when there aren't 20 people packed together in a vestibule.

    I really don't think that the OP is complaining about having to stand, but about the unpleasant conditions caused by the number of people travelling.
     
  25. 142094

    142094 Established Member

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    I take your points, but again the OP is unlikely to get any form of compensation - overcrowding is unpleasant but it happens. If everyone was to get compensation for overcrowded conditions the railways would be bankrupt in a very short space of time.

    As has been said his complaint should really be directed to the DfT.
     
  26. Greenback

    Greenback Emeritus Moderator

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    I agree about the compensation - if everyone who had to endure an unpleasant journey received compo the country would definitely be bankrupt!

    That said, he really should be directing his comments to both the DfT and the TOC, for reasons already outlined by several posters.
     
  27. RichW1

    RichW1 Member

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    I really don't see the point in complaining at all. It's simply maths. The number of people travelling will mean there will always be crowding however modern your railway. Look at Japan or Shanghai...nowhere is immune. I just think people complaining they should have a seat on commuter trains is a nonsense and just not very practical. They do overpay however and I do think the industry needs to get its control and investment strategy correct through longer franchises and maybe some in-contract conditions attached et al. The only people that should not be subject to standing at all are on Intercity's.... There they have a point...no excuse, that's just the lack of investment still being addressed at record pace which will still take another 8 to 10 years to mitigate properly and more because the real answer is high-speed rail.
     
  28. Caped Crusader

    Caped Crusader Member

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    Stock maybe sat in the depot, but without a crew, that's where it will stay.
    Gone are the days of going down the nearest Railway Club and cobbling together a crew to work additional services when demand required.

    Having said that many TOCS will strengthen services when they know demand is going to be abnormaly high, in my area Brighton Pride, Epsom Races etc all get extra services or longer trains.

    I personally had the bad luck to arrange a trip to the Isle of Wight at Bestival time this year, a fatality had shut the line between just west of Brighton, so everyone was going up to Three Bridges and down the Arun Valley to get to Portsmouth. The amount of people left on platforms was astonishing, but was it the TOC's fault?

    Oh and good luck telling Reading or Peterborough commuters they can't get on that train to London with their Any Permitted Annual Gold Cards because they don't have a seat reservation!
     
  29. callum112233

    callum112233 Member

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    Not trying to sound like a glass half empty kind of person but, when I experience overcrowding, I never think that making a complaint or merely reporting it would be worth it.

    I say this because the amount of complaints TOC's and Network Rail have had over the past tells us that they are obviously aware of the problem, so I don't see the point in complaining.

    I will add that I think overcrowding can be dangerous in some situations, e.g on a Friday and Saturday night when people have been out or are going out and people are drunk. It's when it gets to the point of feeling unsafe because there is so many people stood up that I think the conductor should stop letting people board.
     
  30. cuccir

    cuccir Established Member

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    Presumably, TOCs - at least some of them(!) - would like to be able to use more rolling stock. If you complain to a TOC it might not directly have an effect, but when they petition the regulator for more stock they can say "we have had x number of complaints of overcrowding"; it helps them make a stronger case.
     
  31. martinsh

    martinsh Established Member

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    That's the whole point - this was a Saturday, so the people weren't commuters
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    As I said before LM MUST have known demand would be high due to their own promotion, and so should have strengthened services
     
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