South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has expressed his fears of a “return to the old normal” on train services from Lockerbie and accused rail firms of treating passengers travelling from the station as “second class” following train chaos at the weekend.
The local MSP received complaints from constituents about overcrowding on THREE different Transpennine services on Saturday alone.
Passengers were furious about being crammed onto the 10.32 am and 2.35 pm services from Lockerbie to Edinburgh due to there being no seats available by the time the train reached Lockerbie from Manchester airport. The overcrowding on the 12.26 pm service to the capital was so bad, passengers were left on the platform at Lockerbie, unable to get onto the train even to stand for the journey.
It is understood that there was increased demand on the West Coast mainline on Saturday due to upgrading work being carried out on the East Coast mainline.
However, Colin Smyth believes Transpennine Express should have put on extra carriages or services to meet demand and fellow rail firm Avanti West Coast should have arranged for their services running from Birmingham to Edinburgh, which pass through Lockerbie every two hours, to stop at the station.
The work on the East Coast mainline also meant LNER rail services during the day on the East Coast mainline between London Kings Cross and Edinburgh were re-routed to travel to Edinburgh via Carlisle and Lockerbie so arrangements could have been made for them to pick up passengers at those stations.
Commenting on the chaos, Colin Smyth said: “I had the misfortune of being on the 10.32 am TransPennine train to Edinburgh and it was completely packed by the time it reached Lockerbie.
“Not only were there no seats on later services but I’ve received complaints from constituents forced to abandon their journey altogether because they physically couldn’t get on the train even to stand.
“Indeed, one person told me that while she managed to get on the 12.26 pm train, her friend was left on the platform and the train was so busy the person on the train couldn’t get off before the doors closed, leaving her to travel up to Edinburgh alone.
“It was appalling and very stressful for all involved, especially as there were children and older people all being forced to stand in the aisles and being packed in the train vestibules.
“It was complete chaos and proof that once again, passengers at Lockerbie are being treated like second class citizens by the train companies. There were possible solutions to meet any increased demand, but there is no joined up thinking between the rail firms and it is completely unacceptable.
“Covid restrictions have eased and many people are travelling on our railways once again but the last thing we want is to return to the pre-pandemic situation where journeys like this were the norm. But sadly it does look as if we are seeing a return to the old normal when it comes to the woeful services from Lockerbie.”