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Rail crowds 'get worse'
Train operator First Great Western has promised to make changes "where necessary and possible" on its Oxford to London services as discontent about overcrowding continued.
As the row over congested trains grew, city councillors pledged to support passenger pressure group Oxford Rail Action in their efforts to increase passenger capacity on early morning commuter trains.
This week MPs slammed the Government for its failure to relieve overcrowding on key commuter services - including the Oxford to London line.
A Parliamentary petition, backed by MPs of all parties, demanded an "urgent review" of the rail industry to tackle the problem.
The issue has been taken up in the city by former Lord Mayor and Labour group leader Bob Price.
He said: "I have been in regular contact with the campaign group and called for the rail regulator to improve the appallingly low level of the basic service requirements for the Oxford to London service.
"I also call on the Department for Transport to require proper consultation with consumers and the rail users committee before they make service alterations in future.
"We'll be writing in those terms to the minister, rail regulator and to First Great Western."
As reported in yesterday's Oxford Mail, MPs condemned train operators for forcing commuters to stand and said every fare-paying passenger deserved a seat.
Wantage MP Ed Vaizey, who has campaigned for First Great Western to reinstate commuter services following contro- versial changes to its timetable last month.
He told MPs: "I have been told by constituents of three people standing in a lavatory on a commuter train from Didcot.
"A lot of my constituents have to wait for two or three trains."
Monday's early day motion in the Commons came as a snapshot survey carried out by the Evening Standard newspaper revealed rush hour trains to and from London were "routinely standing room-only as far afield as Oxford".
George Ball, a commuter on the 6.28 from Oxford to London, told the Standard: "I have noticed it getting more overcrowded.
"There was an incident recently when I sat in first class as there were no seats.
"They told me to pay but I refused as I am paying £46 to get to and from London and I deserve a seat."
Mr Ball, a director of a publishing business who lives in Oxford, added: "They keep putting up fares and the trains are often delayed.
"The trouble is British people aren't very good at complaining."
And last week civil servant Dr Mike Mitchell, head of the Department for Transport's rail group, said it was "not unacceptable" for passengers to stand on peak-time London trains.
First Great Western spokesman Lance Cole said: "First has responded to customer feedback and recently amended its new timetable to address service issues on the Oxford to Paddington route.
"We are also introducing newly refreshed High Speed Train services with new, airline style interiors allowing higher capacity and comfort.
"We continue to monitor our services in the Thames Valley and will make changes where necessary and possible."