Train overcrowding: cram them in

Posted on November 10, 2010

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Fancy a seat? Think again

Living in London, you have to accept one thing: say goodbye to your personal space.

Whether you’re on the tube or a train, that sacred circle of a metre diameter is kissed farewell. There will always be somebody inserting their elbows, feet, handbag or face within a few inches of you and, worse, they will be annoyed at you for being in their space.

So, what could make that better? What will our wonderful government be doing to alleviate the horror of finding your face in someone’s armpit? (I’m short. It happens.)

Well. They’ll be letting the problem get worse.

Reports have suggested that instead of overcrowding on trains reducing, it will actually get worse in the next four years. A combination of spending cuts, missed targets and discontent in the rail industry means that no, actually, you won’t get a seat anytime soon.

You have to wonder how much worse it can actually get – people already line the aisles, cram themselves into luggage racks, wedge themselves into the (also shocking) toilets. Next people will be balancing on tables, desperately trying to curl themselves into inoffensive balls of human while the person seated at the table huffs and sighs that there isn’t enough room for their laptop.

Of course, we have to be realistic. No company can magic extra train carriages out of midair, especially when funding is being cut left, right and centre. But it has been in a mess for years, and all of the time our ticket prices have been going up and up.

The fact that prices are actually going up again just goes one step too far. Not only will we be crammed in to carriages like poorly arranged sardines, we will also be required to cough up extra dosh for the privilege. One group estimates that prices will rise by up to 30 per cent by 2015.

A peak return ticket between Cardiff and London already costs upwards of £180, which I regard as obscene. If it rose to £234 I might have to forget visiting Wales ever again. Now it looks like I’ll have to pay a fortune, sit in the luggage rack and still be subjected to limbs, bad breath and iPods.

Don’t even get me started on iPods.

Image from yuhui‘s photostream.

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