A man has called ScotRail an “absolute farce” after witnessing a fellow rail passenger faint in front of him on board a “severely overcrowded and claustrophobic” service to the Capital.
Barrie Arthur, 35, was one of many cramped passengers on the 7.26am service from Tweedbank to Edinburgh as a result of only two carriages being in operation yesterday.
He told the Evening News the conditions were so bad that he believes it contributed to a young man collapsing with squashed commuters unable to even lift their arms.
The civil engineer added: “The lad was in his late teens to early twenties and got on the train at Brunstane. He was only two people away from me and we were travelling to Edinburgh when he just fell like a stone. Everyone gasped and tried to help him back on his feet. We were crushed like sardines and there was no room.
“We managed to squeeze him past others and get him sat down and he looked better when we pulled into Waverley.
“It is a severe health and safety breach. There was a sea of bodies and it was a shambles.”
Mr Arthur said upon arrival at Waverley he got the attention of a member of staff on the platform who spoke with the man when he disembarked the service.
But being a regular on the route, the Haddington father-of-one suggested it was just a matter of time before an incident like this occurred with overcrowding on this service being a constant issue at peak times. “This has been coming for a while,” said Mr Arthur. “My concern is what if it is something more serious like a heart attack to an elderly passenger?
“It was so claustrophobic. There was no staff member visible on the train and ScotRail had no idea how many people were on that service.”
The Evening News reported only last month how infuriated commuters criticised ScotRail for ignoring complaints on increasingly poor services, highlighting dangerous overcrowding issues on the same line.
ScotRail said that after the completion of the central belt electrification projects, and the introduction of the new Class 385 and Inter7City trains, they will redeploy more of the existing Class 170 trains to Fife and Borders routes.
This means that more peak trains will be formed of six carriages and off peak services will generally be three carriages.
Robert Drysdale, of the Campaign for Borders Rail, said there was a “serious shortage of trains” and the issue will be raised again with ScotRail boss Alex Hynes.
He added: “We have been meeting with ScotRail and Scottish Government ministers regularly to plead for longer trains on the line, and originally we were told that three-carriage Class 170 trains would be running on the line by 2018.
“Chronic overcrowding has been reported regularly on the 7.26am train from Tweedbank, which is the one of the busiest trains on the route, because from December it was reduced from four carriages to three, and on some occasions only has two. Best estimates are that it would need at least four and probably five carriages to ensure that passengers don’t have to endure crush conditions.”
ScotRail said a report had not been filed in relation to the passenger fainting and therefore declined to comment on Monday’s incident.
A spokesperson said: “We know that one of the biggest concerns for our customers is busy trains – we do all that we can to meet demand, which can peak at different times.
“We run over 2,400 services every single weekday and every available train we have is out on the network to get our customers where they need to be.
“Next year, we will begin to redeploy our existing Class 170 trains to the Borders and Fife. These trains will add more than 5,000 extra seats each day.”