Train company defends what one commuter has described as “hell” for the Ely to King’s Cross journey

Ely rail station

Ely rail station - Credit: Archant

A Soham commuter has told of the “atrocious” new fleet of trains to London in seats that are uncomfortable and aisles that are over crowded.

“Commuter hell” is how Jamie King has described the “miserable” journey which has he said has caused widespread grumblings.

“I have lived in Soham since 1998 and have commuted via Ely station, mainly to London ever since,” he said.

“I have never known such awful journeys.

“I can’t imagine the people who inflicted this atrocious service on us actually use trains themselves, because if they did they wouldn’t be trumpeting announcements about a so-called improved service.

“I read with interest your article about the opening of the new Cambridge North railway station.

“The headline ‘new station opens and more trains bring better service’ intrigued me, as the better service mooted in the article is a million miles away from reality so far this week, coinciding as it does with the misguided introduction of a fleet of new trains.

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“I feel certain that analysis of the number of seats per carriage will reveal a significant reduction in capacity versus the old fleet.

“Any regular commuter who has endured a rush hour journey between Kings Cross and Ely this week will intuitively know there are fewer seats, simply based on the miserable, crowded journeys they’ve experienced.”

Jamie, executive planning director of London based Live and Breathe, said: “The new trains are uncomfortable in every way and are poorly designed for anything but short hop-on/hop-off journeys.

“I believe dissatisfaction is widespread. Fellow commuters are being done a huge disservice by recent changes.

“I pity those who travel from further afield, such as Littleport, Downham Market and Kings Lynn.

He said problems include:

• Not enough seats. On rush hour services around half of those on board stand for the whole journey.

• Overcrowding caused by lack of seating neutralises the impact of new air conditioning.

• Seats are uncomfortable with little cushioning.

• First Class is Worst Class, he says. “There is no discernible difference between standard and first class, the seating offers no additional space. Combined with overcrowding and a notable absence of ticket inspectors, first class has been effectively decommissioned, as put-upon passengers sit wherever they can.”

A Great Northern spokesperson said: “We are sorry to hear a reader is unhappy with our new trains, especially as we have received some very positive feedback since their introduction on the route on May 22.

“These trains also operate on other parts of the GTR network and are popular with those who use them.

“With the opening of the new route to Cambridge North station, Ely now has a half hourly Great Northern service in each direction all day, which adds over 3,300 more seats across the day (40 per cent more) by doubling the frequency in the off-peak and plugging service gaps at this station in the peak.

“Network Rail is also working towards completing upgrades by the end of next year which would let Great Northern double the length of trains from King’s Lynn to eight carriages - producing another large increase in seats for passengers on this route.”

The new fleet replaces trains that are around 20 years old.

They have air-conditioning, state of the art on board information systems, accessible toilets and designated areas for wheelchair users and power points at every pair of seats.