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“Please help me persuade Northern Rail to make commuter trains three carriages long” – Lindsay Endell


Lindsay Endell

A lot of people use the Leeds - Manchester Victoria line in the morning and evening rush hours. Two carriages on a train isn't sufficient for the number of travellers. Adding one carriage to each train would ease the travel conditions and, who knows, encourage more people to use public transport instead of sitting in traffic jams.

Problem History

  • 1 Lindsay Endell reported the issue on FixMyTransport. close 14:16 15 Jul 2011
  • 2 Lindsay Endell wrote to Northern Rail close 14:16 15 Jul 2011

    Here is the letter that Lindsay Endell wrote.

    Short Trains

    The 17:17 from MCV to Leeds on Thursday 14 July was a 2 carriage train. The service is heavily used, especially from Victoria, and there is a limit to how many people can be crammed onto two carriages. It is not unusual for passengers to be left on the platform because the train is full. Please make three carriages the norm rather than a pleasant surprise.

  • 3 Customer Relations responded to Lindsay Endell close 14:20 15 Jul 2011
    Dear Customer

    Northern Customer Relations

    Case Reference: NR/216074

    Thank you for taking the time to contact Northern, the train
    company serving communities across the north of England.

    We confirm receipt of your feedback/enquiry.

    Kind regards

    Customer Relations Officer

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  • 4 Lindsay Endell added an update close 15:34 15 Jul 2011

    Northern Customer Relations have been in touch to say they've had the enquiry.

    Here's hoping they act onit!

  • 5 Peter Dixon commented close 14:52 17 Jul 2011

    Unfortunately, Northern Rail are limited on this rail route as they are elsewhere. The issue comes down to money and a lack of stock. In 2004, when the franchise was awarded, it was let on a no growth basis. Northern have done their best but they have struggled to find more stock as they, National Express East Anglia, East Midlands Trains and First Great Western fight for a diminishing amount of rolling stock that is being cascaded as result of new orders. The good news is that stock is coming to Northern Rail. They are due additional diesel trains from First Great Western and London Midland, so this should improve the situation in the coming months.

  • 6 Lindsay Endell commented close 19:03 20 Jul 2011

    A fine response, Mr Dixon, but it doesn't explain why the majority of the trains running during the day are three carriages long and half empty but the rush hour trains two carriages and heaving.

    When the Oldham Loop was closed, we were told that the units from that service would be used to expand the trains on affected routes. This does not appear to have occurred.

  • 7 Peter Dixon commented close 13:45 24 Jul 2011

    No, it doesn't. The explanation appears to be that the trains that operate on that service are part of a long diagram (set of services) that they must follow that take over 6 hours to complete. The three car trains are used on peak services in and out of Leeds during the morning and evening peak but spend the day trundling to Manchester.

    Yes, there are possible improvements for you that could be made with a timetable recast. Now is certainly the best time to push as they will be finalising the timetable for December at the moment but Northern are limited by what they can put on and where demand is strongest. It is also influenced by subsidy. West Yorkshire puts in a lot of money into rail services compared to Greater Manchester.

    Northern are undertaking a lot of reliability improvements which will hopefully mean that train reliability and capacity should improve. It is frustrating but running trains is certainly not as easy as running a bus service can be.

  • 8 Myf Nixon commented close 14:26 25 Jul 2011

    Hello Lindsay - Myf from mySociety here.

    Good luck with your efforts to get Northern Rail to lengthen their trains!
    This is just to let you know that has now quietly turned from a beta site into a public one, so you can link to the page and gather support among friends and family if you'd like to.

    Our social media buttons are now fully functional, so why not give them a go and see if you can spread the word a bit?

    We'd love to know any further thoughts you have about the site, too - we're still actively making changes based on user suggestions. Just use the 'feedback' button at the top of each page.

    Thanks again for being one of FixMyTransport's first users - hope it turns out to be a useful tool for you.

  • 9 Lindsay Endell commented close 14:28 27 Jul 2011

    Peter, I'm afraid I have very little faith in Northern on this front. Last time they had a timetable shuffle, my line was "improved" by cutting the number of services that stop at my station. The times of the stopping services shifted, and a number of passengers had to change their working hours because they could no longer get to their workplace at the required time. At one point we were due to have one train per hour at my station - we managed to get two concessions: at rush hour, there would be an additional stop on the MCV-LDS service, and if any service to my station was cancelled, the next train on that route would have a stop put on. Of course, nobody told the station staff that so we had to fight for it to be implemented.

  • 10 Thomas Rushton commented close 15:24 27 Jul 2011

    This was a problem even ten years ago, when I was commuting on the other end of the line (the Leeds -> Bradford end).

  • 11 Northern Rail responded to Lindsay Endell close 10:06 28 Jul 2011
    [Make commuter trains three carriages long email]
    Northern Rail 216074

    28 July 2011

    Our Reference NR/ 216074

    Dear Miss Endel

    Thank you for your e-mail, which I received recently.

    I can appreciate that travelling on busy trains is frustrating and can be uncomfortable.

    We are aware that a large proportion of our trains are very busy during the peak periods and that a large number of passengers regularly stand during their journeys to and from work. With every available train in use each morning and evening I hope you will appreciate that there are limitations to what capacity enhancements we can make with our current fleet of trains.

    It has been widely reported that rail passenger numbers have increased considerably across the network in the last few years and tackling the associated overcrowding is a very real challenge for us. The particular problems faced by passengers in the North were specifically mentioned in the Government’s White Paper on the future of rail travel which was published in the summer. We are now in high level negotiations with the Department for Transport (DfT) and other local partners to assess where funding can be obtained to increase the capacity of our fleet.

    During the next year we will be introducing some additional trains to our fleet and adding a third carriage to some of our trains. However, we do acknowledge that this is just a small step towards meeting the aspirations of our passengers and we will continue to press for further funding for capacity improvements as our franchise continues.

    We try to allocate our trains as fairly as possible, with priority given to our busier services. Although with passenger numbers continuing to increase, it is not possible to guarantee a seat for everyone, we do want passengers to be able to board the train of their choice.

    Thank you again for taking the trouble to contact me.

    Yours sincerely

    Terry Sheppard
    Customer Relations Officer
    Northern Customer Relations
    First Floor, The Travel Centre
    City Railway Station
    LS1 4DY

    Tel 0845 00 00 125
    Fax 0113 2479 059

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  • 12 Tom Steinberg commented close 15:52 29 Jul 2011

    Hi Lindsay - why don't you try snapping some photos that show the consequences of this problem? You can upload them to your supporters page, and everything will seem a bit more real - you might even get more supporters...

  • 13 Peter Dixon commented close 20:26 29 Jul 2011

    In all honesty Tom, whilst pictures are good, it is hard figures and a consistent record that helps more. One way of doing it would be to create a journey log. Note the service, delays, any external factors (previous train cancelled) and number of passengers standing/spare seats.

  • 14 Myf Nixon commented close 15:02 04 Aug 2011

    Hi Linz,

    I've taken the liberty of spreading your URL around a bit to see if there's anyone else out there who might be interested in adding their name to this.!/group.php?gid=24872935950

    And there's also a piece queued for moderation on Let's hope some of these bear fruit.


  • 15 Myf Nixon commented close 10:23 05 Aug 2011

    So, rather annoyingly, a small debate started up on the Rochdale online forums, but they have a strict policy of no outbound links, so they've removed my link back to this page.

    What that means is that there's some insightful comment on that page, but no people coming here to actually support your campaign.

    Here's what one person says:

    "Any one who embarks upon the daily commute to/from Manchester will be only to aware of what it's like to travel on the "Sardine Express". Boarding a peak time train at Castleton is bad enough but I pity anyone who has to boards at either Mills Hill or Moston, they usually stand a 1/10 chance of getting on. The situation at Mills Hill has been exaggerated since the closure of the Oldham Loop, with commuters now being forced in to using Mills Hill for their journey.

    There may be light at the end of this horrendous daily commute though. Northern Rail have been promising additional carriages for some time now (Since April at least if not earlier). The question should be when will these carriages arrive? That's what we should all be pushing Northern on - The fulfillment of their pledge. I am sure STORM will happily take up this cause."

    If you'd like to see the other comments too, they are all on


  • 16 Myf Nixon commented close 09:54 11 Aug 2011

    Have you seen this?

    “We are delighted that we will be able to provide much needed additional capacity for our passengers from December. These carriages will deliver an extra 800,000 seats on peak time services across the north of England every year.

    “Overcrowding has been one of the biggest challenges we have faced and one of the biggest causes of complaint tor passengers.

    “I would like to thank our stakeholders for their support in helping demonstrate the clear need for more carriages for the north of England.”

    Would LOVE to think this page played its part, although I do know this issue has been going on far longer than FMT has been around. :)

  • 17 Bill Harrop commented close 09:58 11 Aug 2011

    FMT was the straw though ;)

  • 18 Myf Nixon commented close 10:01 11 Aug 2011

    Ha ha, hope you're right, Bill. That would be nice to believe.

  • 19 Myf Nixon commented close 13:21 23 Aug 2011

    Tons more insight on here now: The problem with mentioning campaigns on other sites - they start talking about them over there!

  • 20 Lindsay Endell commented close 13:49 30 Aug 2011

    I'm delighted to see that Northern has responded - but disheartened to read that while we are promised additional carriages they will be Pacers and Sprinters - elderly secondhand stock with all the problems that entails. 22 'new' carriages across the whole of the Northern franchise isn't actually going to make a lot of difference, especially when those carriages are shorter than the equivalent 153s, and therefore carry fewer passengers.

  • 21 Ian Morley commented close 16:18 31 Aug 2011

    I happened to get the 0848 from Manchester Victoria to Bradford last week. Interestingly a very crowded 2 carriage train arrived at 0840. When everyone had disembarked the a further carriage (that had been standing at the platform) was added to make the train a 3 carriage train. This was somewhat empty all the way through to Bradford.

    Although I sympathise with people on this route, having travelled on it for a few times there mainly seem to be 3 carriage services, and with trains every 20-30 minutes there does seem to be plenty of seats available on the trains I have been on (even at rush hour). This contrasts somewhat with the trains that go between Manchester and New Mills which are always 2 carriages (the bus trains) and get are always overcrowded at peak times.

  • 22 Jonathan Morton commented close 16:52 31 Aug 2011

    If there's a shortage of carriages, then it is very difficult to make existing trains longer *or* run additional trains. I believe Northern have been trying to get additional carriages for some time - we'll have to trust them to make good use of them when they do arrive.

    One solution which I've seen used in Helsinki: where nearly all of the commuter trains are EMUs, during peak hours a few loco-hauled services are also run for commuter benefit. This greatly increases capacity on the outer suburban routes and frees up EMUs for the very heavy inner suburban traffic. After arrival the loco-hauled trains are quickly shunted out of the way into the nearby depot, to be sorted out once the rush dies down.

    Note that to make a longer train, the extra carriage(s) have to be available at the *start* of the journey. It seems likely that the extra mentioned in comment #21 arrived from a different direction, probably carrying it's full complement of pasengers, and was attached to the departing train mainly to move it to where it was needed next.

  • 23 Jack Whitney commented close 19:24 31 Aug 2011

    arriva trains wales really need to add more carriages on. they sometimes only have two! and people have to stand for about an hour! its really unfair when you pay the same price but dont get a seat.

  • 24 Lindsay Endell commented close 13:45 01 Sep 2011

    @Ian, if you're travelling from Bradford you get a better service - more trains and fewer passengers at that point of the journey. I travel from Walsden and in the peak travel hours we have a reduced service, and are almost full by the time the train reaches us from Leeds-Bradford. Not all the Bradford-MCV trains stop at all the stations, which is why I think Northern should make sure they put 3 coaches on when they do stop at all the stations. I'm also pleased that when you've travelled the line "a few times" it's usually three carriages. However, I travel the line twice a day and the majority of the trains I get are two carriages.

    @Jonathan, if they can't give us longer trains, they could make sure that all the trains that travel on the line stop at all the stations on the line. That would also help the situation. We have been promised 'new' coaches from October - but what we're getting are old Pacers and Sprinters, which have a smaller capacity than the 153s we currently see most of. So we may end up with three carriages but less capacity!

  • started 15 July 2011
  • supporters 14
Train route between Manchester Victoria and Walsden operated by Northern Rail
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