On Tuesday, Theresa Villiers and Michael Roberts were both interviewed for Radio 4’s Today program – you can listen to the interview here:
Part of the problem for overcrowding is due to the way carriages are being ordered and allocated to train franchises. As Michael Roberts of the Association of Train Operating Companies says that the Department for Transport has to take some responsibility for overcrowding, because they specify and purchase the carriages. Train companies have asked the Dft for carriages, but to no avail.
The Government were meant to order 1300 new carriages and deliver station improvements worth £10bn. The original plan for 1300 was initially downgraded to 950. Half the carriages – that’s only 650 – have actually been ordered, the rest are on hold due to costs. And the new carriages are allocated by the DfT as well.
However, overcrowding on commuter trains does not just take place for commuters going to London on the West Coast Main Line.
HS2 won’t help any of the commuters on the worst train service for over-crowding into London, First Great Western. It won’t help commuters into London from Brighton or commuters from Bedford.
And overcrowding does not just happen for commuters into London.
There are complaints in the Bristol area, from people who work in Bristol.
The DfT are using overcrowding, a problem they have helped to create, as an excuse to build HS2. And they appear to be opting for a much more expensive way out which won’t actually solve the problems of overcrowding for the majority of commuters.
PS This week is Commute Smart Week.