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Outrage at overcrowded Southeastern train services in Kent

A family was forced to miss three trains and a disabled man had to get a taxi due to overcrowding.

Along with thousands of others, James Kemp travelled to the Kent coast with his family on Sunday, but was confronted with long waits and cramped carriages.

Travellers have complained to Southeastern about long waits and cramped conditions
Travellers have complained to Southeastern about long waits and cramped conditions

Many took to Twitter to complain to Southeastern, which responded by saying it planned to free up more carriages to ease problems when people travelled back later that day.

But, despite this promise, the mayhem continued into the evening.

Mr Kemp, along with his wife and two young children, had to miss three trains simply because they were too full.

His parents and a couple, one of which was in a wheelchair, were forced to pay £75 for a taxi due to lack of space.

The family were travelling from Whitstable to Hertfordshire, and the parents back to Rainham.

Mr Kemp said: "The morning was bad but the evening was verging in dangerous.

"It was absolutely horrendous - I’ve never seen the train so rammed.

"My wife has bruises up her leg from where people were pushing her trying to get on train behind her.

"There were no staff at the station, but the train manager did apologise."
Complaining about the number of carriages being used, Mr Kemp said the live departure board only showed four and six carriage-lengths, despite Southeastern saying longer trains may be put on.

He added: "I don't see how they didn't have the stock to run a 12-carriage train per hour - this would’ve been an easy fix to alleviate issues."

Southeastern accepts its trains were overcrowded on Sunday but said it extended as many services as it could on the day.

Three extra services were added in each direction between London and Ramsgate on each day of the weekend, but more people travelled on Sunday than expected.

Despite the short notice, Southeastern managed to extend some trains, including the 10.40am from Victoria to Ramsgate, from eight to 12 coaches, and the 5.20pm from Ramsgate to St Pancras, from six to 12 coaches.

In addition, many trains are maintained on Sunday, which added to the lack of extra services the company was able to provide.

A spokesman said: "Our trains were much busier than usual this weekend as people headed to the seaside to enjoy the hot weather.

"We plan our timetable well in advance, providing extra train services to and from the coast throughout the summer.

"While these plans coped well on Saturday and bank holiday Monday, we know some trains on Sunday were very crowded.

"We extended as many services as we could on the day - but many passengers still had uncomfortable journeys and some were not able to board the busiest services.

"We’d like to apologise to anyone who was affected by the overcrowding."

The company said assistance will be offered to disabled people if train staff are notified and will try to provide alternative transport in cases where there is no other option.

Southeastern encourages anyone delayed by 30 minutes or more to claim Delay Repay compensation.

It also said it will review the passenger data from this summer, and use it to make future changes to services.

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