Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Overcrowding To Get Worse

A report by MPs has stated that overcrowding on trains will get worse and that targets set by the Department for Transport for increasing passenger places will be missed. The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) was concerned that the "already unacceptable levels of overcrowding will simply get worse and even more intolerable".

The PAC went on to state that ""At present there is no incentive for the rail industry to supply extra capacity without additional public subsidy.

"The DfT should, for future franchises, require operators to take measures themselves to avoid overcrowding and to meet the costs of doing so."

The report recommends that new carriages be fitted with automatic passenger counting equipment and that smart card technology be adopted to monitor passenger numbers to target overcrowding.

At present franchisees, such as National Express East Anglia (NXEA), are not incentivised to make the investment necessary to ensure that services keep up with growth in demand. This is one of the reasons the government is reviewing the franchising system with a view to providing longer franchises to encourage the necessary investment.

NXEA is increasing the number of seats available to Manningtree commuters in the new December timetable but the growth in passenger numbers nationally - 40% in ten years - may see this as a temporary solution if that sort of increase in replicated here.

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