East Midlands Trains, Liverpool to Norwich 'Service'

East Midlands Trains

 A complaint about serious overcrowding on the train from Manchester to Chesterfield. East Midlands Trains' Tim Shoveller responds, but his letter says that really there is nothing they can do about it. In other words passengers, Oh, sorry I should call them 'customers' will just have to put up with it.

Here's the complaint letter . . .


Tim Shoveller
East Midlands Trains
Midland House
Nelson St
Derby DE1 2SA

Dear Mr Shoveller
1638 service, Manchester Oxford Road to Chesterfield on 7 March 2008
I write to complain about overcrowding on this service.
My journey began at Lancaster in the UK, the first segment being Lancaster to Oxford Road, this was a reasonable journey.
However, your train was anything but reasonable. I can not understand why you consider a two-car unit sufficient for the cross-country journey from Liverpool where this service originates, to Norwich.
It was a struggle to board the train. On this occasion I was traveling with only one carry-on bag, which was fortunate because the baggage space is woefully inadequate. I used to commute from Sale in Cheshire to Oxford Road some years ago, before the line was taken for the Metro service. We endured some difficult journeys in the rush hour, but nothing like your ‘service’ today. I was sandwiched between other standing passengers very tightly. At times I felt faint, which is something I have not experienced in the past.
I was very fortunate because I happened to be standing by someone who left the train at Stockport, so managed to acquire a seat. I had to put my carry-on bag on my knees as it was so crowded that it was not sensible to try to put it on a rack.
The station staff on the platforms were walking up and down the train making wild gesticulations to the on-board passengers to move up closer to each other to allow more people to board. This is reminiscent of accounts of journeys in India or Japan than the UK.
The trolley service was a joke, the woman operating it could not have made her traverse of the train whether she wanted to or not, and it would have been impossible for passengers to move along the train and visit the trolley.
Baggage space is totally inadequate. I am surprised that so little space is provided for baggage. One thing you can be sure is that when people are traveling then will be taking some form of bag with them, yet you do not provide adequate space.
I asked the trolley operator if this train was usually better, she told me that it was always like this, and that it was never more than two cars.
This is a disgrace. You should be made to ride this train like an ordinary passenger and endure the conditions you provide until you improve. I shall be interested to hear your comments about why you can’t provide more cars on this service.

Yours faithfully,




Here's what Tim Shoveller responded . . . and some comments alongside

 Dear Mr

Thank you for your letter dated 08 April 2008. I am sorry to hear of your dissatisfaction with the level of service received on your recent journey with East Midlands Trains between Manchester and Chesterfield.

I apologise for the overcrowding and lack of seats available on the train. When the bid for the East Midlands Trains franchise was submitted by Stagecoach in February 2007, the plan for the rolling stock and 35% increase in capacity for the Liverpool to Norwich route was based on figures provided by Central Trains. This related to their Winter 2006 timetable and rolling stock allocation. However, since we have taken over the franchise, it has become clear that the previous figures regarding passenger numbers on this route were not too accurate and there has also been a significant growth in passengers. Central Trains also increased the capacity on this route, following our submitted bid, using Turbostar 170 trains. At the end of the Central Trains franchise these trains were designated to other train operators and were not available for us to lease. The inherited fleet of trains used on this route have also proved far less reliable that I would have expected leading to a higher number of cancellations and short - formed trains.

These combined factors have led to overcrowding on this route and I do wish to assure you that we are working hard to address this problem. We are in the process of starting the refurbishment programme of the existing rolling stock, which will increase seating capacity and improve reliability. We have also leased some additional carriages from South West Trains to help us to increase capacity. A current review of the use of our entire fleet is underway to identify the options to reduce overcrowding; this will be presented to the DofT to hopefully obtain extra resources. However, it may also be worth noting that there are no suitable trains available in the UK for lease and a solution would need to consider trains obtained from elsewhere or a new build.

Once again, please accept my apologies for the disappointing level of service provided by East Midlands Trains and for the problems this caused you. Thank for you for taking the time to bring your experience to my personal attention.

Yours sincerely

Tim Shoveller
Managing Director




 [Editor's Comments]

What Mr Shoveller means is that they got their sums totally wrong. They no longer have the trains they had and the ones they have are not reliable.


East Midlands Trains will start refurbishing their trains which will help, but only in the future.

There are no suitable trains anywhere so they would have to look outside the UK or build some more.

Thank you - but basically there's nothing I or anyone else can do about this.


 Listen to the people's verdict

Final comments:

This is a politely written letter, responding in a timely fashion, the writer does apologise for the situation.

However, despite being the managing director there is basically nothing Mr Shoveller can do because there are no trains for lease. He does not mention buying any.

A disgraceful situation. The service is totally inadequate but there is little anyone can do about it.

response by Tim Shoveller of East Midlands Trains


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