Overcrowding on Exmouth to Exeter trains to improve, hopes MP

PUBLISHED: 07:00 08 January 2019

This photo was taken by Paul Millar yesterday morning (December 13)  before the train got to Topsham when it got so busy and cramped some people could not board the train.

This photo was taken by Paul Millar yesterday morning (December 13) before the train got to Topsham when it got so busy and cramped some people could not board the train.

Archant

“It is clearly unacceptable for GWR to insist that the people of Exmouth pay a full fare for standing room only on a service which is so often uncomfortably cramped that passengers can hardly move.”

East Devon MP Sir Hugo Swire meeting with Mark Hopwood, GWR's managing director, in October last year. Picture: Hugo Swire.East Devon MP Sir Hugo Swire meeting with Mark Hopwood, GWR's managing director, in October last year. Picture: Hugo Swire.

East Devon’s MP has waded into a row over overcrowding on trains between Exmouth and Exeter.

At the end of last year Exmouth commuter Paul Millar, 26, wrote a letter to Mark Hopwood, managing director of Great Western Railway, after regularly experiencing overcrowding on the 7.51am Exmouth to Barnstaple rail service.

Paul, who also contacted East Devon MP Sir Hugo Swire, still has not heard from Mark Hopwood and is now demanding compensation for season ticket holders.

“I met with GWR’s Managing Director Mark Hopwood in October of last year to discuss constituent’s specific issues, such as poor customer service for elderly users,” said Sir Hugo.

A busy platform at the Exmouth train station. Photo by Simon Horn. Ref exe 0876-48-13SH.A busy platform at the Exmouth train station. Photo by Simon Horn. Ref exe 0876-48-13SH.

“I made clear with Mr Hopwood that capacity on the Exmouth line has been under pressure for some time, particularly on the weekend when Exeter Chiefs play and in the morning and evening commuting peaks. I am pleased to hear that GWR plans to phase in updated rolling stock in January and February. I hope this improves services but I will continue to press for more to be done to alleviate overcrowding across the network”.

According to Paul, an executive assistant at Exeter University, there is often a ‘shortage of carriages’ leaving the train overcrowded, with some passengers unable to board the service at all.

Paul said: “If GWR cannot resolve this in the short-term, given the number of people buying tickets, GWR should in my view be offering all season ticket holders - and ticket buyers - compensation for the discomfort for days when the train is short-formed and significantly overcrowded.

“It is clearly unacceptable for GWR to insist that the people of Exmouth pay a full fare for standing room only on a service which is so often uncomfortably cramped that passengers can hardly move.

A GWR spokesman said: “We are sorry if Mr Millar has been waiting longer than he would have liked for a more detailed response; our Managing Director receives hundreds of correspondence and tries to answer each one as quickly as possible.

“Our compensation arrangements are determined by national terms. Rail tickets do not guarantee a seat for the journey, but the journey from A to B, and many trains are designed to offer standing space.”

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