Passengers have slammed a train company after they were crammed into carriages with no social distancing “because it’s a bank holiday”.
Travellers using the Grand Central Rail service from York to London on Monday evening were forced to endure an “uncomfortable” journey with many standing for the entire trip despite pre-booking and reserving their seats.
One passenger, who asked not to be named, told Mirror Online a train worker announced to travellers on the packed platform that “they cannot ensure social distancing on this service due to the bank holiday”.
The Londoner, who works in marketing, said she was stunned when she saw how many people were on the platform waiting for the train when she arrived at York station.
She said: “My boyfriend and I had seat reservations but it didn’t make a difference.
“I was very annoyed given that we booked ahead. We have spent the last few months being really careful and social distancing and then we are forced to travel for more than two hours on a packed train.
“People were not happy.
“The journey was very uncomfortable and we had to stand up for the entire journey. God knows how it must have been for anyone who is old or vulnerable.
“This is the first time we have taken a train journey since March and on the way to York it was fine but coming back it was a complete shambles.
“There was no social distancing whatsoever and there was no inspector checking tickets. It was a free for all.”
She added: “On our way to York we weren’t even allowed to sit next to each other to maintain social distancing yet on the way back today they have acted so irresponsibly.
“Have they forgotten we are in the middle of a pandemic?”
Angry passengers on the same 17.05 journey have taken to social media to slam the train company.
One traveller tweeted: “There’s little point in booking a seat when you have no chance whatsoever of getting to it. The York to London train is ridiculously packed. It’s unsafe.”
Another said: “It should not acceptable to sell more tickets for a service than it can comfortably hold taking into account social distancing guidelines. In my opinion, as the service provider this is your moral responsibility. I hope no one gets sick.”
A furious passenger posted: “Completely irresponsible way to run a business in present times. No social distancing as you have clearly oversold on tickets. Putting profit above safety. You should be heavily penalised for this. Outrageous.”
A passenger uploaded a video of a packed carriage saying: “I should not be subjected to being hemmed in by way too many people when I’ve bought a ticket under the premise that there would be social distancing on this train. Please explain why more tickets are being sold for this train when it is already ‘full’ to the guidelines?”
However Grand Central Rail has claimed the crammed carriages were a result of people getting on to trains without pre-booked tickets.
A tweet from the train company’s Twitter account in response to a complaint said: “We’ve let our control team know of the situation on board. At the moment, every passenger requires a reservation so social distancing can be maintained however it looks as though people have decided to board the service without … ^LA”.
But angry passengers have accused the company of putting the blame on to travellers.
One tweeted back: “Please don’t put this on others. As I said everyone I have asked around me has a booked, (and presumably like mine) non transferable ticket for this specific service. Perhaps your ‘control team’ should have prevented people boarding or offered alternative route?”
Another commented: “It is you who owes a duty of care to your customers and has an obligation to ensure social distancing…why are you blaming passengers for your inability to do so?”
A spokesman for Grand Central Rail told Mirror Online: “Like other operators we strictly limit the number of seats we make available for advance reservations on all our services.
“All the seats on our trains are clearly labelled to show which are available for passengers to use in order to comply with the latest social distancing guidelines.
“We publish an indicator of seat availability, three times a week, allowing passengers to plan travel for less busier times.
“On this very busy bank holiday it appears that passengers without reservations for this train boarded despite being advised it was full.”
“Our on-board staff did a great job looking after passengers who had booked ahead, even arranging for travel on alternative less busier services.
“This month we will be increasing our seating availability by adding extra services to our North East and West Riding routes.
“We continue to advise passengers to reserve before they travel, plan their journey for less busier times and ensure they use a face covering.”