Thursday, May 01, 2008

Why I hate first class compartments

It'll be a few days before I can catch up with everything, but I can't let one story from the last few days go without comment and that is the case of a commuter who was fined for standing in the only space available on a train. It's not well documented online apart from Evening Star: 'I was fined for standing in 1st class'.

Despite all the doom and gloom stories, rail use has been increasing in recent years. But rail companies are doing very little to tackle the capacity problems that this brings. First class compartments on a commuter service are a joke. It's wasting space that could be used to ease the crush of what often feels like little more than a mobile cattle truck. And it speaks volumes that the rail companies are more concerned with enforcing the class compartments than actually finding ways to relieve the pressure.

Now I'm enough of a rail geek to know that you can't easily just add carriages to existing services. Quite apart from where you get the rolling stock from, the rail timetables would need to be heavily altered to incorporate longer crossings and numerous railway stations would need to be extended to take longer trains. Double decker carriages could also be difficult to implement on existing lines, although if there are any possibilities there then they'd be worth exploring.

What train companies can do, however, is make much better use of the space within existing carriages. Wisely many ditched first class compartments at least as recently as the 1980s when many slam door carriages were replaced on the London commuter lines. First class compartments are a total waste of much needed space. They don't bring any special luxuries that make the ticket price worth it beyond having a different group of people to fight for seats with, and slightly more space. This is at the expense of the bulk of travellers who get treated like cattle.

It's not just out of date class compartments that cause problems. A lot of the carriages used for metropolitan suburban services are frankly designed for county services, and consequently are badly laid out for the scrum you get at peak hours each day. A more rational approach to design and allocations is needed.

1 comment:

Semaj Mahgih said...

Rational, Tim? You ask for rational?

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