Saturday 27 December 2014


Double-decker trains are being considered as a solution to overcrowding on London’s busiest rail services. Network Rail officials propose introducing double-decker trains during busy periods between Southampton, Woking and London Waterloo. 
Other measures include building “flyovers” to allow trains to bypass busy stations, a new terminus in London and greater use of narrow train seats. Network Rail has unveiled the proposals as solutions to increased overcrowding on rail services in the next 30 years. Passenger numbers on the country’s congested railways are projected to rocket in that period, with the total number of journeys doubling from 1.6billion a year to 3.2billion. The number of commuters arriving at Waterloo in London, the country’s busiest station, between 8am and 9am is expected to rise from 50,000 to 70,000 by 2043. 

 In 1949 Four-car double deck trains were introduced on the 
Southern Region. They were designed by Oliver Bulleid and 
lasted until 1971. They were said to be cramped and unpopular 
and were slow to load and unload. Click here and here to see videos.
A new double-decker train could be designed to take on the extra numbers, after it was decided that none of the trains used abroad would be suitable as Britain uses higher station platforms. The initial concept involves a train consisting of three 85ft carriages which could carry 50 per cent more passengers. Stephen Joseph, of the Campaign for Better Transport, told the Sunday Times there were potential “serious problems” with double-decker trains as it takes longer for passengers to get on and off. 
The consultation also proposes new platforms at Southampton station and a rail “flyover” at Woking, costing up to £100m, with one at Basingstoke costing up to £175m. Another scheme was to increase the number of carriages that cram five seats abreast, a move the report accepts would be drastically unpopular with the travelling public. 
A separate report outlines options for the Anglia rail network, including a proposal to build the first new rail terminus in London since Marylebone in 1899. The report suggests the station could be built next to Shoreditch High Street station in east London on land owned by Network Rail. The report also proposes more platforms at Liverpool Street station. 
A spokesman for Network Rail said: “It’s right that as part of our plans to increase capacity we fully examine the costs and benefits of double-decker trains, alongside traditional engineering enhancements such as flyovers at Woking and Basingstoke and new platforms at Southampton.”

Footnote:- One of the Bulleid double deck carriages survives at Northamptonshire Ironstone Railway Trust. See here.