By Steven Bell
Greater Manchester rail commuters are calling for action to ease overcrowding on busy weekday trains.
Packed carriages are a regular feature of morning and evening rush hour across the region with routes linking towns like Bolton, Preston and Wigan to Manchester heavily overloaded.
Northern Rail PR Manager, Clare Conlin, said demand for rail travel in Greater Manchester had exceeded predictions and the company had seen a 34% increase to their services since 2005.
“We have done much to meet this demand by bringing in more carriages to provide an extra eight million seats for passengers every year,” said Ms Conlin.
James Pilkington, 33, has travelled from Bolton to Manchester for work for the past ten years. He claims the journey has always been uncomfortable.
“They (the carriages) always seem to be full to the rafters - sometimes I feel very claustrophobic,” he said.
Making reference to the ‘sardines in a tin’ adage, Mr Pilkington painted a vivid picture of his daily experience.
“The eight-twelve from Bolton to Piccadilly is a sardine special,” said Mr Pilkington. “However, I don’t think having more trains is the answer as they leave every ten minutes from Bolton. I think possibly more carriages on peak services could be the solution.”
His comments were echoed by another traveller, 16-year-old Adam Fawcett, from Wigan, who’s a regular user of commuter routes across Greater Manchester.
Mr Fawcett said: “It’s ridiculous. I think something should be done about the overcrowding. I’d like to see more carriages, especially at busy times.”
Ms Conlin emphasised that Northern Rail are looking into ways to tackle the issue.
“We are also working with the Department for Transport and the Passenger Transport Executives to find cost-effective ways to fund additional carriages into the network to help ease crowding on the busiest routes, such as those in Greater Manchester," she said.