Commuter faces full trains on line from East Anglia to London

Busy Greater Anglia train

The commuter train from Manningtree to London was full last Thursday. - Credit: Stephen Francavilla

As transport restrictions are eased at the end of lockdown, a commuter to London has warned that it is becoming increasingly difficult to observe social distancing on some peak-hour trains to the capital.

Stephen Francavilla travels three or four times a week from Manningtree to London - and said that over the last week there has been a significant increase in the number of passengers on the morning service.

Crowd at Manningtree station

Last Thursday there were more people waiting at Manningtree because the previous train had been shorter than expected. - Credit: Stephen Francavilla

Last Thursday he took photographs on the 7.02am train from Manningtree to show just how busy it was with passengers standing and little sign of social distancing. He said it got even worse after stopping at Chelmsford.

He travels to London on the 6.54am InterCity service or 7.02 train - the return journey in the afternoon or evening is not normally as busy because people tend to stagger their return.

He said: "There has been a noticeable increase in passengers since April 12. The current reality of the 6.54am intercity is that the majority of airline-style pairs of seats are taken by at least one passenger and passengers have to share a table of four, which would indicate a 45-50% capacity between Colchester and London.


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"The website mentions that the service reductions will be until May, so I imagine Greater Anglia is expecting more people to start commuting from the next lifting of restrictions on May 17."

Last week, Greater Anglia said it was carrying about 33% of its pre-pandemic number of passengers - and operating 82% of its normal timetabled services. At the height of last spring's first lockdown the number of passengers was down to about 7% of normal.

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Mr Francavilla's pictures were taken last Thursday - a day when the rail company had problems.

A Greater Anglia spokeswoman said: “On April 15, the 06.54 from Manningtree was formed of a four-carriage train. This service is usually formed of a 12-carriage train. We apologise for the inconvenience caused.

“We are currently operating around 82% of our normal timetable, and customer numbers and travel patterns are monitored every day. We would encourage any customers with concerns to get in touch with us direct.

“We would like to remind passengers to use the full length of the train and spread out along the platform while travelling with us, to help make the best use of the space on board.”

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