New trains passing through Wakefield Kirkgate and Castleford have made overcrowding 'worse'

New train carriages on lines running through Wakefield and the Five Towns have made overcrowding worse, it’s been claimed.

Tuesday, 17th March 2020, 11:45 am
Updated Tuesday, 17th March 2020, 11:46 am

Wakefield councillor Kevin Swift said the new stock for Northern services passing through stations including Wakefield Kirkgate and Castleford had fewer seats than the old carriages.

Passengers have been told there's no prospect of more carriages or longer trains on those routes for the timebeing.

The problem is understood to have affected rush hour services, though trains this week have been generally free of crowding as the COVID-19 pandemic has forced people to work from home.

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New stock was introduced across the Northern train network at the end of last year.

Speaking at a scrutiny committee on Monday, Councillor Swift said: "There’s a terrible problem in terms of overcrowding on services from Leeds that go to Wakefield Kirkgate and then to Castleford and the Five Towns area.

“On those there’s been the problematic situation that the new rolling stock, which is very nice compared to the old stock, but actually there’s less seats on them than the old stock.

"We’ve got very severe overcrowding continuing on those routes."

Coun Swift said Network Rail were aware of the problem and that they'd said that Platform 17 at Leeds Station, where many services to Kirkgate, Castleford and Normanton depart, was not long enough to accommodate more carriages.

Services passing through Wakefield Kirkgate are among those particularly affected by overcrowding.

Although they'd previously suggested the platform could be extended, a lack of resources meant this was ruled out last week, he said.

It's understood the prospect of moving the trains to a different Leeds platform may be explored but that process is likely to be complicated.

Coun Swift said that the new trains had at least been more beneficial for passengers forced to stand on a daily basis.

He said: "I spoke with a regular user of those services, who said the old stock was worse for her than the new stock.

Councillor Swift spoke of the problems at a scrutiny meeting on Monday.

"It became clear over the course of our conversation that that she wasn’t even talking about sitting down. She said it was worse for standing.

"She and her friends weren't getting to sit down on the new or the old ones.

"She said the new ones were rather more spacious and the old ones were actually quite dangerous."

Both Network Rail and Northern have been contacted for comment.

Local Democracy Reporting Service