Train operator says sorry after complaints of overcrowding on Thursday rush-hour Leighton Buzzard services

Early-morning commuters hit Twitter after cramming into four carriages instead of usual eight
London Northwestern has apologised for overcrowding on some early-morning services from Leighton BuzzardLondon Northwestern has apologised for overcrowding on some early-morning services from Leighton Buzzard
London Northwestern has apologised for overcrowding on some early-morning services from Leighton Buzzard

Train operator London Northwestern Railway says overcrowding issues on its commuter services from Leighton Buzzard on Thursday were caused by a perfect storm of problems on the rail network.

Passengers hit social media with pictures of people on board the 06:51 service and complaints about the train only having four carriages instead of the usual eight making social distancing impossible.

But LNR bosses revealed the knock-on effects of major disruption caused by a person being hit by a train on the Birmingham-Liverpool stretch late last night led to staff and rolling stock being in the wrong place to start running today's services.

Signalling problems on the West Coast Mainline also delayed Avanti West Coast services, leading to more people than usual getting on at Milton Keynes.

LNR's customer experience director, Lawrence Bowman, said: “We apologise to passengers whose trains were shorter than usual this morning. A fatality and serious trespass incident late on Wednesday evening resulted in a number of trains being left either unavailable or out of position.

“The timetable we introduced earlier this month has been designed to run trains with as many carriages as possible and we continue to monitor passenger footfall closely and listen to customer feedback.”

One passenger on board the 06:22 tweeted: "The craziness of this is I can’t have six people I know at my house but I can be on a short-formed London Northwestern Railway service into London, crammed in so that the two-metre rule is out of the window and the guy next to me is coughing and sneezing. "

And another posted: "This is what you get if you run a short carriage service and everyone has planned their commute on what you normally provide. Very disappointed when we are unable to socially distance.

LNR tweaked its timetable earlier this month to add extra trains and seats to services on the West Coast Mainline route ahead of more people returning to workplaces and students going back to schools and colleges.

The operator says its services are still running with 75 per cent fewer passengers than it was before the Covid-19 crisis and it uses Twitter to alert passengers if trains do become busy.

Mr Bowman added: "Passenger numbers on our services are currently steady at about a quarter of typical pre-Covid levels.

“Live information on train departures and passenger loadings is available via our website and Twitter feed to help passengers make informed choices about their journeys.”