Fury over ‘sardine’ trains

Salford Central station
Salford Central station
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CHRISTMAS shoppers and sports fans today blasted a train company for rail chaos over the weekend.

And Wigan-to-Manchester service operator Northern Rail today apologised for under-estimating the number of rail users on Saturday when Christmas shoppers combined with rugby fans heading to and from the World Cup Final at Old Trafford.

Passengers from Wigan onwards were turned away from trains to Manchester from Saturday lunchtime while at least two successive Manchester to Wigan Northern Rail evening trains, clearly already full of standing passengers, sailed straight through Salford Crescent station, despite being timetabled to stop.

Many abandoned the station altogether and set off into the night in search of taxis, vowing to register the strongest complaints.

Those that couldn’t afford an alternative way to get home were hours late, having to wait for the last Wigan-bound train of the evening at 11.20pm.

Numerous passengers have contacted the Evening Post to hit out that the increase in demand for seats could easily have been predicted because of the long established popularity of the Christmas markets. And the Rugby League World Cup final venue was confirmed as long ago as May 2012!

A Whitley mum was angry that the rail firm had so-spectacularly failed to “let the train take the strain” by providing extra carriage capacity. And the “nightmare” of the battle to get home by train may make her reconsider using rail in future.

She said: “I got to Salford Central at about 8pm but the platform was already full of people and families trying to find their way home but unable to do so because of the packed train carriages, just like sardines packed in a tin. So we walked down to Deansgate instead to attempt to board a train to Wigan but again the platforms were full and things were worse because Stockport and Preston trains were diverted there for some reason. It was not a good advert for city business at all and in fact it will drive people away.”

A Northern Rail spokeswoman said: “After a thorough and detailed planning process, we set out to provide 5,900 additional seats on Saturday for the expected rush of Christmas shoppers as well as rugby league fans in and around Manchester. After reviewing services from the weekend, we actually provided above our target but due to the sheer volume of customers wishing to travel, not everyone was able to get on their chosen service. We wholeheartedly apologise to those that didn’t.”