Standing room only on some train runs

PASSENGERS are being put in danger due to an over-crowded rail service from Felixstowe to Ipswich.On a number of occasions passengers have had to sit on each other's laps, stand in the aisles and during one particular journey a passenger with a buggy had to sit in the driver's cab.

PASSENGERS are being put in danger due to an over-crowded rail service from Felixstowe to Ipswich.

On a number of occasions passengers have had to sit on each other's laps, stand in the aisles and during one particular journey a passenger with a buggy had to sit in the driver's cab.

The over-crowded service has led to fears for safety, as the standing passengers are more vulnerable to serious injury if the train was involved in an accident.

Only one carriage is usually provided on the Anglia Railways service between Felixstowe and Ipswich, whether during peak or off-peak times.

As the summer holidays have arrived, the trains have become packed with more tourists and children going out for the day.

A number of passengers on the 4.40pm train from Felixstowe to Ipswich on Tuesday were disgruntled as they had to sit in cramped, hot and uncomfortable conditions.

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More than 20 people had to stand and one parent had to sit in the driver's cab with a buggy.

Kerri Howard, an Anglia Railways spokeswoman, explained: "The driver allowed the person in the cab to ease the problem even though it's not normal practice."

She said the parent with the buggy would have felt more comfortable there rather than in the cramped conditions in the body of the train and that the driver would have used a partition door within the cab to separate the passenger from the controls.

Other parents with prams struggled to find space on the single carriage, which was mainly filled with children going home after a day at the seaside.

The conductor told the young children to double up on to the seats and sit on each other's laps.

A passenger from Ipswich said that this was the typical situation during the school holidays. He had travelled on the 10.10am train from Ipswich to Felixstowe on the Tuesday and said that people had to stand then as well.

"You would hope there would be another carriage on, but they never seem to put them on. It is just something you get used to. You have to accept it."

A retired train driver from Ipswich said: "It's the same every where you go." He said the problem stemmed from a shortage of trains and staff.

The regularly used carriage is relatively old and has fraying material on the sides, which have been progressively pulled away. Some plastic fittings are also missing and there is an unpleasant smell.

However on the odd occasion more than one carriage is provided or modern carriages replace the normal service.

Miss Howard said they normally provide more carriages if they can predict that the demand for the service will be high.

She added that the 75-seater single carriage was normally adequate for the number of passengers travelling to and from Felixstowe and that the train had been so full on Tuesday because more tourists were heading to the resort due to the mini-heat wave.

Anglia are currently running their services with one carriage missing as one of them is still being repaired after it was involved in a collision with a lorry at the Blaxhall crossing in April.

The company was however assessing the long-term future of the service and whether extra carriages will be needed.

"It's the age old problem. The problem of course is they don't have enough rolling stock," said Charles Taylor, life president of the East Suffolk Travel Association (ESTA).

He said when the sunshine comes out Anglia does not have enough carriages to cover the demand and that the problem will continue until they get more carriages.

Mr Taylor felt it was a great shame because the service had been up-graded to an hourly service and Anglia had encouraged more passengers to travel with them, but now they cannot cope with that demand.

"By and large they get by, when something like this happened they have no reinforcements.

"It is the shortest line there is. The revenue it brings in is probably the lowest. If you are after the money what do you do - you go where the money is.

"Anglia are quite a decent lot. With their limited resources - we have been going on about not having spare stock for a long time.

"If the trains break down there is no more in the sidings, there used to be in the good old BR days."

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