Trains run by TransPennine Express in West Yorkshire are squeezing in more passengers than the maximum capacity during peak hours, making it the operator’s most crowded service in northern England.
New figures released by rail bosses show that during peak hours of 7 to 10am and 4 to 7pm, the operator’s trains are squeezing in nearly three per cent more passengers on average than the stated capacity.
The rate of overcrowding is much higher in Leeds than any other major city in the North. In Manchester trains are operating at eight per cent under capacity at peak times, while in Sheffield they are 34 per cent under capacity.
A report by Transport for the North also reveals that an average of 39 passengers a day were unable to board services run by operator Northern in late May and June, a slight improvement on the previous month.
The strategic body, whose subsidiary Rail North is responsible for managing Northern and TPE, which both run services though Dewsbury and north Kirklees, says passenger crowding is a significant concern and that “both operators are in the process of bringing in new trains, in part to address the capacity problems”.
The report says the performance of both operators are still below the targets set out when they were awarded the franchises, despite improving since last year’s rail chaos in the North.
A spokesman for TPE said: “We know that our services across the Pennines can be very busy, especially at peak times, following a double in the number of customers travelling over the past decade.”
“That’s why we are delivering an investment of £500m on our new Nova trains, which offer many more seats compared to our existing trains, and will start running across our network in the next few weeks and months, with Leeds one of the cities that will first benefit.”
A spokesman for Northern added the company had also invested in major improvements recently introduced new trains running to and from Leeds.
“More will follow throughout this year,” he said.