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Overcrowding on Virgin Trains

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Overcrowding is unpleasant for everyone.  The actions of the train manager can either alleviate, or worsen, the experience.  Unfortunately, although overcrowding does not happen very often, when it does the manner with which it is dealt with (on Virgin Trains) is almost always shabby.

Apart from the unpleasant experience, there are also genuine safety issues but nowhere can I find any guidance (see below) with regard to defining overcrowding (let alone how the definition is arrived at); ensuring overcrowding doesn’t become a danger; monitoring passenger volumes.  It is most likely that train managers are responsible for managing the passenger volume on their trains but nowhere is this made explicit.  Moreover, when I did ask a train manager about this (see related blog entry) he refused to answer me.

I struggle to imagine a train manager risking their job over the chance that someone will get hurt on their train through overcrowding.  So, whilst a train manager may, or may not, have the power to stop more passengers getting onto his train, clearly, the pressure on them from the train operator would make such an event highly unlikely.  What is infuriating, and worrying, is the reluctance of train managers to deregulate first-class and thereby remove the risks to passengers without seats.  The only realistic explanation is that the comfort of first-class passengers, and the desire to preserve that lucrative trade, takes precedence over the safety of standard-class passengers.  This suggestion is further supported by the consistent oversupply of first-class coaches to the detriment of standard-class coaches.  Swapping out a first for a standard-class coach would, in most of the cases I am aware of, have allowed all passengers to have a seat.

See related blog articles for specific examples of overcrowding on Virgin Trains and a digest of regulations.

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