CROYDON COMMENTARY: A Tory MP has demanded that Southern should lose its franchise for operating services from Coulsdon, Purley and Croydon into London. But for regular commenter ROD DAVIES, the acute overcrowding of trains between East Croydon and London Bridge and Victoria is becoming dangerous
It is virtually an annual event that I, as a commuter, at 07.30 in the morning get a seat on the train to London Bridge. It is equally galling to get off the train at the end of the day together with large numbers of other people and then watch what appears to be a half-empty train leave on the onward journey to some station to the south.
As it is planned that tens of thousands of new residents will move into central Croydon, the demand for trains will only increase on this section of track.
Not only is the overcrowding uncomfortable, it is in my opinion verging on the dangerous.
The carriages are not designed for large numbers of standing passengers. All too frequently as speeding trains pass over uneven stretches of track, passengers struggle to find something to hang on to. Too often, seated passengers leave large cases and folded bicycles in the areas where passengers must stand, especially by the doors.
While I do recognise that trains serving Gatwick will always have passengers with large cases, the lack of provision for them is a serious omission. The folding bikes left by the doors pose a further hazard. Any heavy lump of metal parts left unsecured on a moving vehicle poses a risk if the vehicle brakes suddenly. But to place machined metal objects, with hard and sharp edges, where people have to stand is a further risk, notwithstanding that these bicycles are also greasy and dirty.
My own view is that many of the trains serving south of Purley could terminate in Croydon with people changing on to either London Bridge or Victoria commuter trains that are designed to handle high volumes of people. It might inconvenience those passengers having to change, but a Mass Transit solution would be more fitting for areas within the M25.
Perhaps a high-speed service to Gatwick from London Bridge, with capacity for luggage, would ease some of the problems? Perhaps the reintroduction of guards vans or their equivalent, so that bicycles (folding and others) and larger items of baggage could be transported without taking up standing room or endangering passengers could be trialled?
The commuter rail service from Croydon into London seems to be not fit for purpose at the moment. And it is certainly not fit for the future.
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