Action to be taken on station overcrowding

Preston's platform Two (left) is often vastly overcrowded
Preston's platform Two (left) is often vastly overcrowded
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Rail campaigners have called for a dormant railway platform to be opened up, after Preston Station was named among the most overcrowded in the UK.

Network Rail has named the station among the 11 worst in the country for overcrowding, and demanded bosses take urgent action to thin the crowds.

Today Aidan Turner-Bishop, of the Lancashire Campaign for Better Transport, said: “Platforms One and Two are used for local Northern Trains services, and they are quite congested because the platforms are quite narrow and there is a little cafe in the middle.

“There are a lot of people changing to go to and from Blackpool, and it does get particularly congested.

“The other thing is a lot of people use the steps, and not the subway.

“On a summer’s day, you will see lots of families carrying suitcases.”

Network Rail has ordered each of the stations named on the list to identify congestion-reduction measures by 2019.

Mr Turner-Bishop suggested a platform next to Platform One, which is currently largely dormant, could be brought into use for passenger trains.

He said: “There is a platform which is not used by passengers at all. It was used by express parcel trains and would be Platform Zero, if it was used.

“When you stand on Platforms One or Two which are congested and look across the tracks, there are Victorian buildings.

“There is the occasional parcel train and charter train parked there.

“There is also capacity on Platform Seven, which is used for watering steam trains.”

Mr Turner-Bishop added having no direct trains from the London and the South to Blackpool was adding to the congestion, with passengers changing at Preston.

A spokesman for Virgin Trains, said: “Virgin Trains welcomes the publication of the Network Rail report which rightly highlights the issue of overcrowding across the country.

“It’s something that as an industry we must tackle together, as more and more people are now choosing rail as their preferred means of transport.

“Preston is one such station, and work is already under way to address some of the challenges it presents.

“We are looking to simplify the way in which information is presented, through the introduction of Easy Access Information Points.

“And we will also be introducing what we hope will be much easier-to- follow signage to alleviate the pressure on key pinch points.

“As part of this process, we will look at the placement of station furniture to ensure smooth access and egress to all platforms.

“In the longer term, we are also looking at ways to lessen the pressure on the station footbridge, used by the vast majority of customers with improvement works planned for the subway.”