HUGE overcrowding during the jubilee weekend has raised serious doubts about the ability of Hounslow’s rail network to cope during the Olympics.
Hundreds of passengers were left stranded on platforms across the borough last Sunday (June 3) as rail bosses failed to anticipate the demand.
South West Trains (SWT) ran just one train an hour from Hounslow to Waterloo that day, despite thousands of people travelling into town to watch the Thames pageant.
Angry residents have questioned the firm’s decision to run a normal Sunday service, albeit with some longer trains, and fear similar chaos when the Games begin next month.
Chris Durkin, of Millwood Road, Hounslow, travelled with his wife to watch the pageant in Battersea Park.
He managed to catch a train from Hounslow but said that by the time it reached Chiswick the platform was ‘dangerously’ overcrowded and many people were left stranded.
“This is a horrendous portent for the approaching Olympics. Even without them why should our rail station be relegated to one train an hour with four carriages only on Sundays?” he said.
“It is scant wonder Hounslow town centre is so overlooked by wealthy shoppers and the major shopping chains with such a derisory train service.”
More than a million people are believed to have lined the banks of the Thames to watch the 1,000 boat Queen’s diamond jubilee pageant.
A spokesman for consumer action group London TravelWatch said the level of interest appeared to have caught train operators by surprise and it would be talking to them to see if there are ‘any lessons to be learned’ ahead of the Olympics.
“We have been arguing for some time that an hourly service on the Hounslow loop on a normal Sunday is inadequate so it not surprising that this type of service was inadequate over the Jubilee weekend too,” he added. “We would like to see an improvement to the Sunday service on the Hounslow loop line sooner rather than later.”
A spokeswoman for SWT said it had run additional services on the Sunday, with extra carriages on a number of its lines.
“We apologise to any passengers who faced inconvenience on their journey into London on Sunday,” she added. “As with many other transport providers, we saw large volumes of passengers travelling to the Jubilee pageant.
“In addition to making advance preparations to strengthen services on our suburban route, with all services doubled in length, we also provided additional train services and extra seats throughout the day to cope with the higher than expected demand and to ensure everybody got to London for the celebrations.”