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Why is my train crowded?

In the past 20 years passenger journeys in the UK have doubled. This huge increase in demand cannot be matched by the rail network’s finite capacity – we can only run so many trains on a limited number of tracks, resulting in crowded trains.

Increasing the rail network’s capacity with major upgrades like HS2, Crossrail and Northern Powerhouse Rail will mean more trains with thousands of more seats and reduced overcrowding.

Train companies are also working together now to make journeys more comfortable and trains more frequent. We're introducing 11,300 extra services a week, 8,000 new carriages (equivalent to replacing half of the nation’s trains old for new), and upgrading hundreds more carriages to make them more comfortable.

Find out more about the new trains coming on track.


Can you open new lines or lines previously closed by Beeching?

Rail is a clean, green and efficient way to move lots of people around, particularly from and to the centre of towns and cities. It can play an important role in levelling up the country’s economy. As such, we support the building of new lines where there is a robust business case which takes into account ongoing running costs, not just initial building costs. The government’s £500m fund to develop these proposals and accelerate the delivery of schemes that are already being considered is a welcome move.

Can you run more trains?

We are. We already run 31,000 more trains every week than we did 20 years ago – almost a third more - and, working together, we’re going further. Between 2017 and 2025 we're adding 11,300 extra service to weekly timetables. That’s an increase of almost 10 per cent. We are also introducing 8,000 new train carriages – equivalent to replacing half of the nation’s trains old for new.

However, Britain’s railway is one of the most congested in Europe, so we have to be careful that squeezing more trains onto the network to meet growing demand doesn’t impact on punctuality. When there are more trains packed into the network, if something goes wrong, it has bigger knock-on impacts and makes it harder to get the service back to normal. That’s one reason why transformational projects like HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail are so important.

Find out more about the new trains coming on track.


Can you have double decker trains?

Double decker trains are a familiar sight in countries like France or Germany. Unfortunately, it would be very difficult and expensive to convert Britain’s rail network, built in the Victorian age, so that it could accommodate double decker trains. Tunnels would have to be made wider and bridges higher, all while we try to continue running existing services.

Nevertheless, we are increasing the number of trains running on our network – 11,300 more trains will be in weekly timetables by the mid-2020s. Also, together, the rail industry is introducing 8,000 new train carriages, equivalent to replacing half of the country’s trains old for new.

Why can’t you run longer trains?

In many parts of the country that’s exactly what we are doing. Platforms have been lengthened at Waterloo station, for example, to accommodate longer trains running on the route to Reading. And Northern is introducing new, longer trains to replace aging Pacers.

Altogether, we are introducing 8,000 new train carriages between 2017-2025 – equivalent to replacing half of the nation’s trains old for new.


Why don’t you add extra carriages on busy services?  

Day to day, we can’t simply add an extra carriage to a busy train. Train carriages are extremely expensive assets, so while we have enough spares to carry out training and maintenance, it would be inefficient to have them on standby for occasional use.

However, often train operating companies will work with Network Rail to manage timetables to add on extra services during big events that are expected to require a large influx in demand like football matches, festivals or other major events.

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What big changes do you want?

Rail companies are calling for big changes but what matters to you?