More carriages no solution to train overcrowding

Commuters who find themselves squeezed like sardines into the trains which carry them to work every morning may feel they have won a victory this week, with the Government pledging that it will pay for more carriages, but according to a respected campaign group, they'd be better off staying at home.

Transport Secreatary Douglas Alexander announced this week that 1,000 extra carriages would be provided by the Government by 2014 and then leased to the train companies.

The bulk are likely to be deployed in London and the South East where overcrowding is at its worst.

But whilst commuters might relish the idea of having at least a vague chance of finding a seat, more carriages are not universally accepted as the solution.

Work Wise UK was set up to promote working practices which take into account the ways our society, and technology, has developed and the not-for-profit group insists that the best way to reduce over-crowding is not to hop on the trains at peak times.

“By encouraging smarter working, such as flexible working, mobile working, remote working and home working, overcrowding can be cut by reducing the number of journeys people are required to make for their job,” said Phil Flaxton, chief executive of the organisation.

“Last year rail passenger traffic grew by a staggering 10%. Demand is expected to continue rising rapidly and it will be very expensive, if not impossible, to match the growth in supply to prevent overcrowding on trains.”

“If people just worked one day a week from home using the communications network rather than the rail network this would represent a 20% drop in the number of commuter journeys they made a week.”

“Working 9 to 5, five days a week, at a central location, coupled with the desire to travel many many miles in order to attend meetings, are working practices which are actually largely unnecessary considering the technology available today.”

As well as resulting in a happier, and more productive staff, home working and making the most of communication technology has significant environmental benefits, as less journeys means less congestion and lower emissions.

“Smarter working will not only reduce transport demand,” said Mr Flaxton.

“There are also the benefits of reduced emissions, improved productivity and better work-life balance for employees.

Sam Bond

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