EXCLUSIVE: Passengers forced to stand in packed trains 'like cattle'

EXCLUSIVE: Northern Rail passengers are forced to stand in packed train carriages ‘like cattle’ with all the windows closed amid half-term engineering work chaos

  • ***EXCLUSIVE*** Photograph shows major overcrowding on Northern trains over the bank holiday weekend
  • Families have been making the most of warmer temperatures as the mercury hit highs of 82F (28C)
  • Unsuspecting travellers were met by crowded trains on Northern rail services filled with maskless passengers
  • Do you have photographs or video of your overcrowded train journey? Email [email protected] 

Fury at Northern railway continued today as a mother’s photographs of a crowded train showed services running with closed windows and carriages so crammed passengers were forced to stand in the aisles.

Samantha Newton told MailOnline she had to put her belongings on the seat next to her to prevent others getting too close on a crowded service between Hull and Halifax on Saturday.

The rail line has said it was battled engineering works alongside an already-reduced timetable because of coronavirus, but ‘all [carriages] that could be used were out on the network’.

It comes after photographs obtained exclusively by MailOnline yesterday showed Northern rail’s oversubscribed service packed passengers onto trains, which one father compared to ‘cattle carts’. 

Ms Newton told MailOnline today she had her three-year-old son on her knee to keep him away from other passengers as they travelled on a 12.15 service from Hull.

Very few passengers pictured by Ms Newton wore masks, despite coronavirus rules asking those travelling on public transport to cover their nose and mouth to prevent the spread of the disease. 

And Ms Newton said the windows on the train were closed, even though airflow can help prevent coronavirus particles infecting others. 

Ms Newton was told by the rail line the windows were closed by passengers, according to messages seen by MailOnline between the mother and an online help assistant.   

Ms Newton said: ‘These windows are ones that need a square key to be open/closed so that’s rubbish.’ 

Northern rail said it faced unusually high numbers of passengers over the bank holiday weekend, adding that all available trains were running.

A spokesman said: ‘We are currently operating a timetable, introduced in May, that reflects a phased recovery from the impact of coronavirus on the industry. 

‘Our colleagues at Network Rail also carried out engineering work in several locations across the north during the bank holiday weekend, which resulted in further changes to the timetables.’

Samantha Newton told MailOnline she was forced to put her belongings on the seat next to her to prevent other passengers sitting next to her on a crowded service (pictured) between Hull and Halifax on Saturday

Ms Newton told MailOnline today she had her three-year-old son on her knee to keep her away from other passengers as she travelled on a 12.15 service (pictured) from Hull

The rail line added: ‘In light of these factors we ran as many services as we could and, where possible, sought to use additional carriages on routes where demand was predicted to be highest. We do, however, have a finite number of carriages available to us and all that could be used were out on the network.’

It comes after Christopher Crabb, 23, from Doncaster, told MailOnline he was travelling on a service from Blackpool to York with his partner and their five-month-old daughter on Wednesday when they were forced to stand in a corner of the train by the toilet.

He described feeling ‘like cattle’, adding that his partner Laura Purdy, 29, had to balance on a slope in order to breastfeed.

Two images show how three pushchairs squeezed into the disabled area of the carriage, as families ignored coronavirus rules by not wearing a face covering.

Those few who were wearing masks pulled the coverings down below their nose and mouth, and Mr Crabb said rail staff did not try to enforce the rule. 

One teacher who was on an overcrowded service into Manchester on Saturday has been ordered to self-isolate by the NHS app and will miss two days of school next week.  

Very few passengers pictured by Ms Newton wore masks, despite coronavirus rules warning those not wearing a face covering face large fines if caught

Mr Crabb, a community worker, suffered a seizure as the stress of the journey triggered his emotional epilepsy. 

He said when he complained to staff about the lack of available seating, he was shown to the disabled area, which was next to the toilet. He added: ‘People were barging past us constantly. It would have been better to sit in the toilets – there was more space in there.’

When Mr Crabb came around from his seizure he said he felt ’embarrassed’ because there were so many people ‘staring’ at him. He revealed a stranger had to grab his daughter from his partner so she could look after him. 

‘I just hit the deck,’ he added. ‘There were so many people and I get really embarrassed with it. I came round and people were staring at me.’  

In response to another passenger’s complaint over Twitter, Northern rail said: ‘We are unable to stop anyone from travelling it is each customer’s decision if they would like to board a busy service.’ 

A teacher told MailOnline she has to self-isolate for two weeks because she thinks she came into contact with coronavirus while on a crowded train.

Christopher Crabb, 23, was travelling on a service from Blackpool to York (pictured) with his partner and their five-month-old on Wednesday when they were forced to stand in a corner of the train by the toilet

Out of the crowds of people on board, very few appeared to be wearing a face mask, and Mr Crabb said train conductors did not ask anyone to put a face covering on

She said she was on a train between Congelton to Manchester on Saturday when she was faced with severe overcrowding because there were only three carriages.  

‘We had to stand the entire way squashed up next to people; it was horrible. I couldn’t believe there were no limits on numbers- we’d paid for our ticket in advance. I felt so unsafe,’ she said.

‘I was travelling with my two sons and we are now all isolating after getting a notification from NHS COVID app. It must have been the train as we met my daughter in Manchester and she didn’t get the notification. 

‘I’m a teacher and will now have to miss two days of teaching and have had to cancel my birthday plans with my family this Saturday.’

She blasted Northern rail for not providing enough trains while ‘all other sectors are bending over backwards to make their venues Covid secure?’ She described the situation as ‘a total disgrace’.  

It comes after Blackpool Council urged people to remember the existing Covid rules and to ‘enjoy yourselves safely’ as temperatures soared this week.

Warm weather sent many families crowding to the beach to make the most of time off during half-term. 

On Tuesday, 78F (25.7C) was recorded at Heathrow Airport, making it the hottest day of 2021 so far and beating a temperature of 77.2F (25.1C) that was recorded at Kinlochewe in the Scottish Highlands on Monday. 

But the warmer weather has led to a number of overcrowded train services.

Video taken on Saturday by one furious traveller showed few passengers wearing masks on a crowded train to the seaside town. 

Jaimes Moore posted video footage of a crowded service from Blackburn to Blackpool at 12.21pm on Tuesday.

He wrote: ‘bang up job of social distancing on the 12.21 Blackburn to Blackpool… no staff to stop folk piling on or to ask for masks to be worn…. Utterly ridiculous.’

One photograph shared on Twitter showed crowds cramming in train doorways. The caption read: ‘The fact that people are still being allowed on even though there is no seats, the aisles are full, no one can move people are blocking the doors so the doors keep faulting as well’

Another woman who complained on Twitter said: ‘One route to Manchester airport… crowding around doors and in aisles. Gotta love an overcrowded train during a pandemic.’ 

Of another service, a man said: ‘Glad I didn’t buy a Ticket for @northernassist from Carnforth to Lancaster, train is packed worst than I’ve ever seen it. Pretty sure this is a breach of Covid guidelines?’

Another man said: ‘Your travel safe officers are doing nothing. Train from Blackpool South to Preston absolutely packed, no distancing, many people not wearing masks and your guys not enforcing anything. Why did I bother buying a ticket….’ 

In contrast, passengers on London North Eastern Railway (LNER) must have a seat reservation in order to travel, which allows the operator to safely enforce social distancing.   

A spokesperson for Northern said: ‘We are sorry that people may be experiencing busy services on our trains.

‘We are doing all we can to make our stations and trains as safe as possible for our customers and staff. We have an enhanced cleaning plan in place, with more than 600 dedicated staff, focussing on touch points, toilets and removal of litter.

‘We’re also reminding all our customers that, unless they have specific exemptions, they should wear a face covering on our trains and at our stations. Colleagues from British Transport Police continue to support our staff in helping encourage customers to wear face coverings.’ 

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