Relief for commuters

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EXTRA carriages are being introduced onto local rail services in a bid to end the controversial “sardine trains”.

Northern Rail are putting a further 50 carriages into operation to slash congestion on key routes across the county.

The announcement comes a week after they admitted the early closure of a ticket office on the Wallgate/Manchester line because the weekend trains were so packed with Christmas shoppers standing in the aisles.

The carriages, a result of the Department for Transport’s rolling stock programme, means that more than 20 per cent of their major urban centre peak time trains will have more seats.

There will be an extra:

l An extra 600 seats on Wigan/Manchester trains. Northern are increasing the number of seats on 10 peak time services, which include two Southport services and two Kirkby services. Manchester commuters will benefit from extra seats on five trains in the morning peak and five in the afternoon and early evening.

l 300 extra seats on the Liverpool/Manchester services used by Wigan commuters. They are increasing the number of seats on eight peak time services. Liverpool and Manchester commuters will benefit from extra seats on four trains in the morning peak and four in the afternoon and early evening. A busy evening train from Liverpool to Wigan will gain 70 additional seats.

Managing Director of Northern Rail Ian Bevin said that overcrowding had been one of the biggest challenges they have faced and one of the biggest causes of complaint for passengers.

He said: “Thanks to the additional carriages we will be providing 1.1 million extra seats per year for Greater Manchester during the peak hours.

“We know that these extra carriages will not eradicate overcrowding.

“But it will certainly provide significantly improved journeys for our customers from their introduction this morning.”

Independent Metro councillor and TfGM representative Norman Bradbury said: “It will go a long way to ending the type of unacceptable scenes we saw last weekend.”