Page last updated at 15:12 GMT, Monday, 12 October 2009 16:12 UK

Line closure sparks overcrowding


Commuters have told the BBC they are facing constant problems

Commuters on a busy railway line into Manchester have experienced problems getting on some peak-time trains because of overcrowding.

Northern Rail services from Rochdale to the city centre are attracting high numbers of passengers because of the closure of the nearby Oldham loop.

The loop line has been closed for the expansion of the Metrolink network.

Northern Rail said it understood the frustrations of passengers but that it needed more funding for extra trains.

Amanda Wheldrick regularly catches the 0716 BST service from Rochdale into Manchester with her son, Ben, but often cannot get on because the train is full.

Five train sets used on the Oldham Loop Line until 3 October should be redeployed now to deal with this overcrowding
Councillor Richard Knowles, GMITA

"I turned up late for work every day last week and I may have had sympathetic answers from my bosses, but they're not going to put up with that for much longer," she said.

"I think it would be in everyone's interests for them to put an extra carriage at least on the 0716 service and possibly an in-between train."

The Greater Manchester Integrated Transport Authority (GMITA) said it was aware of the overcrowding and urged the Department for Transport (DfT) and Northern Rail to take action.

Councillor Richard Knowles, GMITA Capital Projects Committee chairman, said the loop closure had put extra stress on both the Rochdale and Greenfield lines.

"Both lines were overcrowded before the line closed for Metrolink conversion and many former Loop Line passengers have been trying to squeeze onto these trains especially at Rochdale, Castleton and Mills Hill, and many are being left behind," he said.

"Five train sets used on the Oldham Loop Line until 3 October should be redeployed now to deal with this overcrowding."

High costs

But Carolyn Watson, of Northern Rail, said it was not as easy as simply adding extra trains.

"We want to use the five trains that had provided services on the Oldham Loop to reduce overcrowding for our customers in Rochdale and other parts of Greater Manchester but we need funding to do that," she said.

"This is because the cost of operating those trains is far higher than the passenger revenue they generate and that gap has to be closed in order to pay for the trains to run."

Ms Watson said funding talks with Greater Manchester transport chiefs and the DfT would continue.

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