The latest figures on rush hour rail overcrowding make miserable reading if you're a First Great Western passenger: the morning peak trains are typically carrying 18.5% more passengers than their supposed capacity. That can't be a pleasant journey.
The Office of Rail Regulation got train operating companies to count the number of passengers on their trains last autumn and, where most train operating companies (TOCs) were carrying about 1.7% to 3.5% passengers in excess of capacity (PiXC) overall, FGW clocked up an overall average of 16.6% PiXC. That's up from 8.2% in 2009. The BBC quotes a FGW spokesman saying they find it "difficult... to keep up with demand" on services into Paddington, which is a frontrunner for Londonist's Most Mealy Mouthed Excuse 2011 award.
The numbers reveal Southeastern to be one of the better TOCs, with just 0.8% overcrowding overall; but the crown goes to London Overground who, according to the figures, have no overcrowding whatsoever. And airconditioned trains.
The most crowded stations also make for interesting reading (here we're going with morning peak figures; evenings are more spaced out, presumably because people stay in the office late or go out after work, whereas in the morning everyone's trying to get in during roughly the same period). If you're going to Paddington you've a 59% chance of being on an overcrowded train, compared to 43% for Moorgate commuters, 27% at Fenchurch Street and 23% at Waterloo and Liverpool Street. For the least overcrowded main stations, you need to make sure you're heading to Euston (3.2%) or Kings Cross (8.5%).
We keep being promised more capacity improvements but until that happens, let's be sensible when we're on overcrowded trains: don't block seats with bags and if there's space inside the carriage, move down so your fellow commuters / sufferers can get on. Most of all, don't roll your eyes and tut if someone asks you to do one of the above, it does nothing for our commuter rage...