Overcrowded trains: Bolton MP asks rail firms ‘why the delay?’ over extra carriages

Rail firms in the North West must give commuters answers to explain delays to resolve overcrowding on trains, demands a Bolton MP.

Commuters across Bolton using both Northern Rail and First TransPennine Express faced severe overcrowding throughout the festive period, particularly on the routes into Manchester – resulting in many people being left on station platforms.

Bolton West MP Julie Hilling had written to the companies to demand answers.

Prime Minister David Cameron promised that there would be extra carriages by December last year but a response from Northern Rail to Ms Hilling revealed these will not arrive until February.

However Ms Hilling claims that although these will ease the issue, they are not likely to fully solve the problem of overcrowding.

She said: “Northern Rail explained that because of the additional challenges such as the Christmas Markets in Manchester, they did provide additional carriages over the weekend period and learnt lessons from 2013.

“However they have acknowledged that they ‘need more capacity during the week to help prevent overcrowded conditions’.  They are hopeful that a solution to this would be releasing diesel trains from the soon-to-be electrified Manchester to Liverpool line, onto the Bolton corridor. 

“I do welcome this news but this will not occur in until February and not December as the Prime Minister promised, potentially making people late for work or forcing them to catch another train.”

Ms Hilling, who chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Rail in the North, has pressed the government to include better rolling stock and to do more about the ever increasing rail fares.

She has held meetings with both Northern Rail and First TransPennine Express as well as the Transport Secretary Patrick McLaughlin in an attempt to deliver a petition to Downing Street.

Ms Hilling added: “I will continue to press both the train operators and the Government on this issue in Parliament.”

David Crausby, Labour MP for Bolton North East, hit out at Mr Cameron’s ‘broken promises’ over new carriages for the Bolton-Manchester route in December.

Speaking on the issue in December, Mr Crausby said: “It’s all been smoke and mirrors, there’s no new money and there will be no requirement on companies bidding to run our line to replace the outdated trains.

“It’s another broken promise from this Government that will leave local residents disappointed. This comes on the back of David Cameron’s recent broken promise to provide extra carriages for the Bolton line before the end of the year.”

Rail user Andrew Mckie, a personal injury and fraud barrister, thanked Ms Hilling for her efforts to campaign for more carriages.

He said: “Thank you Julie an excellent effort – it’s nice to see an MP taking direct action over local concerns.

“Let’s hope  Northern Rail this actually now do something this. It has been going on for years – let’s see what they do.”

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