Nearly a quarter of passengers forced to stand on rush-hour West Midlands Trains

Nearly a quarter of passengers on the main provider of train services through the Black Country are being forced to stand during morning rush-hour.

West Midlands Trains
West Midlands Trains

Department for Transport figures showed 23.7 per cent of West Midlands Trains passengers had to stand on a morning during 2018 as travelling became a nightmare for commuters.

It was also revealed that 5.7 per cent of morning trains run by the operator were ‘in excess of capacity’, meaning they were too full.

The situation was not much better at evening peak time when 17.5 per cent of passengers were standing and 2.5 per of trains were over capacity.

The Campaign for Better Transport said too many passengers were paying to stand.

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West Midlands Trains runs regular services between Wolverhampton, Birmingham and Walsall, stopping at various stations on the way. It was the first year since the company took over services from London Midland.

The company said it had more trains on order to try and tackle the issue.

On Virgin Trains, which runs services on the West Coast Mainline through Stafford, Wolverhampton and Sandwell, 10.9 per cent of passengers were standing during evening rush-hour and 2.9 per cent on a morning.

It meant that 2.5 per cent of Virgin services passing through Birmingham were too full on evenings after work and 0.8 per cent on mornings.

On Cross Country trains 5.7 per cent have to stand in a morning and 10.5 per cent of an evening on these services with 2.1 per cent over capacity

Transport for Wales services in and out of Birmingham, which also travel through the Black Country, were less crowded with 1.5 per cent of passengers having to stand in an evening and 0.6 per cent in a morning.

Darren Shirley, chief executive of Campaign for Better Transport, said: "Too many commuters are paying to stand in aisles, vestibules and even toilet cubicles.

"Part of the solution is to continue to invest in better stations, track and rolling stock.

"But to avoid overcrowding, passengers also need advance notice of the busiest trains and pay-as-you-go ticketing which increases flexibility about when they travel.

"The Government's Rail Review should transform how the railways are managed and operated.

"That must include fundamental reform of fares and ticketing to tackle overcrowding and restore public faith in the railways.”

Jon Page, from the Wolverhampton Liberal Democrats, said: "People dread getting on the trains in Wolverhampton and the Black Country between 7am and 9am. Its just horrible and the companies are just failing commuters – it is time they invested in more rolling stock.

Francis Thomas, head of corporate affairs for West Midlands Trains, said: “Travelling by train is more popular than ever before and over the last two years the West Midlands region has seen the fastest passenger growth in the country.

“To tackle the challenges this additional demand brings we are investing £700m in our train fleet to increase capacity by 25 per cent and help give passengers a smoother ride. Brand new trains are on order and will start appearing on our network next year.

“In the meantime we will use the upcoming timetable change in December to make adjustments which will help us maximise our existing stock and improve journeys.”

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