THERE’S just two days to go until we present our 1,000 strong petition against overcrowding on Bolton’s trains to Downing Street.
On Wednesday, The Bolton News will join MPs David Crausby, Julie Hilling and Yasmin Qureshi as they hand in the petition to Parliament, and to Number 10.
Over the past three months we have been collecting signatures calling for an end to Bolton’s “cattle truck” rail service and asking train bosses to bring back axed carriages during peak hours.
Hundreds of people have signed the petition and shared their horror stories about commuting in sweaty, claustrophobic and occasionally dangerous carriages.
We need transport bosses to listen to your concerns and give Bolton the railway service it deserves.
Please sign our petition in person at The Bolton News office in Victoria Square, or online.
Here, we share some of the concerns and stories sent in by Bolton News readers:
■ Michael Tatman, aged 80 of Eden Street, in Astley Bridge, said taking a train from Bolton was like stepping back into the Dark Ages.
He said: “My wife and I had to go to London last week. There was a humiliating, sub-human brawl to get on the mid-morning train to Manchester. We were beaten to it by younger, stronger, more forceful passengers.
“We had to wait for the next train, and made our connection to London by a painful, undignified, breathless two minutes.
“Why is it not possible to use a public service without being treated like animals?”
■ Peter Burniston, aged 64, of Lakenheath Drive in Sharples, said he regularly uses the service from Bolton to Manchester Airport.
He said: “My company pays for a first class ticket which guarantees me absolutely nothing. No seat, no room, as the whole carriage is sardine packed, and on some occasions not even the ability to board the train.
“My next business trip requires me to be at the airport for 9am. I now have no alternative but to choose a taxi and run the gauntlet of the M60, but at least this mode of transport is a known gamble with reliability and comfort.”
■ Wendy Hesketh, aged 41, of Sutherland Road in Heaton, said it is a challenge to commute to Manchester every day.
She said: “All too often I am not physically able to get onto trains due to them being crammed with people and have to let them leave without me and wait for a later train.
“Standing cramped, pushed against other people in the doorways and aisles of trains is unsafe and unhygienic — when you are so closely packed and inhumane. Often people feel ill because it is so hot and humid.
“I am pleased if I manage to get the train I need at the first attempt and am able to stand on the journey in not too much discomfort – and I pay almost £1,000 year for this luxury!”
■ Liz Whitfield, aged 34, of The Cheethams in Blackrod, said getting a seat during her daily commute is ‘like Christmas’.
She said: “The service now is stretched beyond belief, but with these cuts it’s just ridiculous. The last thing you need at the end of a busy day is having to worry about what time you'll get home, what train you can squeeze on, how long your wait is till the next, and if you’ll fit on that. It’s just a joke.
“Normally I’m stood in a doorway, someone’s armpit in my face trying to hold on, and you get shouted at by the conductors to stand in the loo. It’s terrible conditions and I pay £100 a month for this!”
■ Kyle Waters, aged 28, of Brentwood Drive in Farnworth, said the whole service is a ‘complete joke’.
He said: “The trains are always packed full, it costs me £27 per week to commute to and from work, which I feel is enough money without being made to feel like cattle being transported from farm to slaughterhouse. We need better service, more carriages and more frequent trains, not less.”
■ Cath Gallager, aged 48, from Rydal Road in Heaton, said she’s spent almost 29 years struggling to get on a train every morning from Bolton to Manchester.
She said: “The platform is always packed and sometimes I can't get on the train I need, due to overcrowding.
“On occasions, this has made me late for work. My husband says buying a county card annual ticket doesn't guarantee me a seat on a train. Sadly, over the past 15 years or so, it hasn't even guaranteed me standing room on a peak service.”
■ Jean Howarth, aged 83, of Chorley New Road, Horwich, said: “I travel to Manchester frequently and always feel guilty when a younger person gives up their seat for me, particularly on the return journey when they have been working all day. Many of them have to endure these grossly overcrowded situations every day.
“The conditions are becoming dangerous and if there were to be an accident the impact would be horrendous.”