Wigan commuters today begged train operators to improve “disgraceful services”, calling them “overcrowded and smelly”.
Trains from Wigan North Western to the Manchester Oxford Road and Piccadilly are among the most crowded in the UK, sometimes carrying over twice their capacity at peak times. Passengers have approached Transpennine Express, which operates the routes between Glasgow Central and Edinburgh to Manchester Airport, asking the operator to increase the number of carriages and calling the current provisions “unforgivable”.
“The way that Manchester is going now, with people being discouraged to travel by car; the only alternative people have from Wigan is to get the train. It is the only practical option.”
The most recent figures from the Department for Transport show that in autumn 2015, the Glasgow to Manchester line was listed as the second most crowded train in the country – holding 215 per cent (219 passengers) more than the capacity. The same service was also listed as the most crowded in the UK in spring. A statement accompanying the report says that the busiest point of the service is from Wigan North Western and Manchester Oxford Road. Both the 4pm and 6pm services from Manchester Airport to Edinburgh were also included in the top ten in 2015 for reaching up to 196 per cent over capacity during peak hours.
A spokesperson from TransPennine Express (TPE) said: “We recognise that our services, particularly at peak times can be very busy and we will be introducing extra capacity across our network. “We have committed to delivering over £500m of investment in the next three years including the introduction of 220 brand new carriages which will provide 13 million more seats a year for customers. “This will lead to an 80 per cent rise in seats at the busiest times of day.” MPs have also voiced their outrage at plans to stop the route from Wigan to Manchester Piccadilly, re-routing thousands of commuters to Manchester Victoria at the other side of the city. Wigan and Makerfield MPs Lisa Nandy and Yvonne Fovargue have lobbied the rail minister to stop the changes.
After setting up a petition which reached more than 1,500 signatures, the MPs have been given the green light to draw up a proposal for alternative plans. Arriva will take over the service from December 2017, although no details have yet been released about plans for the capacity of their carriages after changeover.