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Railhub Archive
1999-03-29 OPR-001


Sustained passenger growth in London

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South West Trains

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Sustained passenger growth in London

related documents

Counts for all ten operators (OPRAF, 1999)


29 March 1999
source OPRAF
type Press release

Passengers on Thameslink and South West Trains continue to experience overcrowding on their commuting journeys into London. Official figures released today show that these two operators continue to exceed their peak loading thresholds. The other eight train operators serving the capital are within their capacity limits despite a 3.8 % increase in the number of passengers commuting into London compared with the previous year. Three operators who were at, or over, their capacity limits in 1997 have taken action which has reduced overcrowding to within the allowed capacity threshold.

The autumn 1998 counts showed that an extra 16,050 morning peak passengers each day commuted into London last year but that, in the majority of cases, these were accommodated by operators making more seats available in the peak periods.

The headline results from the survey are as follows:
Train Company
% of passengers
in excess of capacity
both peaks combined
(threshold 3%).

Chiltern 0.5
LTS 0.5
WAGN 1.2
Connex South Eastern 1.8
Silverlink 2.7
Thames 2.6
Great Eastern 2.7
Connex South Central 2.9
South West Trains 3.9
Thameslink 7.1

Commenting on the findings, Franchising Director John O'Brien said:

"The current trend shows that many more people are travelling to work by rail. Clearly, if numbers continue to grow at the predicted rate, the system will soon become overloaded. Commuter capacity, therefore, is a key issue that.the Shadow Strategic Rail Authority will need to urgently address. Preliminary work in this area by OPRAF is already underway.

" However, these results do reveal two positive trends - continued growth and the success of most of the operators in managing it last year.

" Rail commuting to the capital accelerated dramatically in 1997 with an unexpected surge of 9%, which inevitably resulted in increased overcrowding. I am, therefore, encouraged that the remedial measures taken by several companies to accommodate the extra numbers have had a significant effect.

"The underlying factors that contribute towards overcrowding are very difficult to tackle on some specific routes such as Thameslink, but, overall, this is a satisfactory industry performance. It reflects the hard work that operators had put in with OPRAF over the previous year on developing revised train plans and other measures to help manage the problem.

"Talks are underway with Thameslink to identify ways of easing the current overcrowding, although the longer term solution lies with the Thameslink 2000 project, which would allow the operation of additional trains through London.

"South West Trains experienced exceptional growth - up 9.8% in the morning peak. Measures they had already taken to use stock and available capacity more effectively meant that, whilst overcrowding still occurred, the excess capacity only rose by 0.1% over the recorded period. OPRAF and the company are continuing to explore what additional measures might be
possible to alleviate this".


Notes To Editors

1. Tables detailing the results of the counts for all ten operators are attached [[see related documents]]

2. All the train operators have to make reasonable endeavours to alleviate
overcrowding under their franchise agreement signed with OPRAF. A strict
bespoke regime - passengers in excess of capacity [PIXC] - applies to
London commuter services and certain other areas at peak times.

3. OPRAF's rules stipulate that the numbers of passengers in excess of
capacity must not exceed 4.5% of the total number of passengers in either the
morning or evening peaks - and no more than 3% over the two peaks

4. The train operating company must conduct an annual autumn count and
OPRAF can order recounts if necessary. Results are compared with the
contractual limit and the operator must agree with OPRAF a timetable/train
plan to comply with the limit over the next year, and subsequently throughout
the franchise term.

5. Capacity is deemed to be the number of standard class seats on the train
for journeys of more than 20 minutes; for jour neys of 20 minutes or less, an
allowance for standing room is also made. The allowance for standing varies
with the type of rolling stock, but, for modern sliding door stock, is typically of
the order of 35% of the number of seats.

6. Options to control overcrowding include additional or longer trains and
altered stopping patterns. Peak demand can also be spread by special ticket
offers, for example cheap early morning season tickets. In the longer term,
extra capacity can be provided in some cases by lengthening platforms to
allow operation of longer trains, and by providing extra track capacity.
However such projects take considerable time to develop and implement.

7. A separate news release issued by OPRAF today reports the outcome of
counts on ScotRail's heavily used Edinburgh - Fife commuting line, which is
also subject to OPRAF's PIXC regime.

Railhub Archive ::: 1999-03-29 OPR-001


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