A COMMUTER has expressed her frustration over trains between London and Kemble which have become increasingly overcrowded.

Rebecca Neal, who regularly travels by rail from Kemble to London Paddington, says Great Western Railway is providing a substandard week service week on week.

She says the peak time morning train on January 15 from Cheltenham arrived with only five coaches and not the ten required.

It meant she spent the whole one hour and 30 minute delayed journey standing in the bicycle rack squeezed in with dozens of passengers.

Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard: Rebecca's experience of an overcrowded trainRebecca's experience of an overcrowded train (Image: Rebecca Neal)

“I conservatively guess around twenty passengers were squeezed into this space, which I’m sure can’t be safe,” she said in an email to GWR.

“These awful travelling conditions led me to feeling faint and nauseous and at several points, on the filthy floor trying not to pass out.

“I’m a perfectly healthy adult but these travelling conditions are primitive and completely unacceptable. For the privilege of your service I paid £87.50.

“As an aside, first class passengers had to contend with no tea or coffee as the boiler had broken.

“Obviously the majority of passengers like myself in standard class weren’t going to get a trolley service, let alone a seat, due to the overcrowding.

“This isn’t about the money. But week upon week of sub-standard service. Almost every journey into London is delayed or/and is missing half the coaches.

“This has consistently been the case since I started working in London in early 2022 and I am travelling weekly. It is getting worse.

“To be honest I dread these journeys now. GWR keep taking my and other passengers money – but for what service?”

Her concerns are echoed by County Councillor Paul Hodgkinson (LD, Bourton-on-the-Water and Northleach) who also witnessed a lot of overcrowding on trains to and from the capital.

“I travel on the trains regularly in Gloucestershire and have lost witnessed a lot of overcrowding,” he said.

“Whilst the introduction of faster trains to and from London a few years ago is welcome, there’s no point having them if they are too small for the number of passengers.

“The very least GWR should be doing is making sure enough carriages are laid on so that everyone feels safe and gets value for money.”

GWR have acknowledge their performance has not been good enough of late. They said in a response to Ms Neal that last year and the beginning of this year have been particularly difficult, with the ongoing industrial action and an increasing number of weather-related disruptions.

On November 29 November the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) launched an investigation into poor train punctuality and reliability in the Network Rail Wales & Western region, and Network Rail have committed to work with the ORR to identify causes and take steps to address, GWR says.

“We have also launched a project which seeks to stable the current situation with the infrastructure, and our senior management team meet with Network Rail each week to review their progress on this.

“We’ve also continued to have too many services formed with less carriages than planned, which also impacted your journeys when we were unable to offer pre-booked seat reservations and meant the trains were very, very busy.”

They also said their rolling stock remains extremely tight which has also led to cancellations.

And the phasing out of their Castle Class HST trains and the reduction in units also means that they have fewer spare vehicles when there are problems.

“For example [Ms Neal’s] service on Monday was formed of five instead of ten carriages – we would of course rather run the service in its planned formation but the action we took on Monday was preferable to cancelling the service altogether.”