Our role in relation to station and train crowding

Crowding, both on trains and at stations, is a feature of many journeys and reflects the ‘turn up and go’ service that the railway is expected to provide. ORR has a responsibility to ensure railway companies protect passengers from any health and safety risks from crowding. We also oversee a number of obligations these companies have to their customers, including making sure the railway is accessible for all.

As such, ORR takes passenger concerns about crowding seriously. However, where the safety risksfrom crowding are being well-managed and train and station operators are meeting their obligations to customers, we do not have the powers to require further action.

While there is little direct evidence of an increase to passenger health and safety risks from crowding, there are indications that it can increase the risk of fainting and ‘slips trips and falls’. Passengers can also feel stressed, anxious or vulnerable in crowds and this can negatively affect their wellbeing. Some passengers, such as people with visible or non-visible disabilities, older people or those travelling with young children can experience these negative effects more intensely, or more frequently.

Our position statement sets out our view on crowding, including our expectations of train and station operators. ORR is paying close attention to how railway companies plan to further reduce the health and safety risks of slips, trips and falls and fainting connected to crowding. We are also focussing on the effectiveness of operators’ plans for, and management of, foreseeable events such as sporting fixtures or large festivals which can cause crowding or make existing crowding worse. We also expect operators to consider the impact of crowding as part of their obligations to facilitate the use of the railway by disabled people and people with reduced mobility.

Who has responsibility for monitoring levels of crowding?

The Department for Transport (DfT) monitors the levels of crowding and publishes details about top 10 most crowded train services. They expect train operating companies to plan their timetables to accommodate the passengers expected throughout the morning and evening peak periods. Separate regimes penalise operators for late trains or for services that do not meet the agreed timetable.

DfT's contact details
Public enquiries
Department for Transport
Great Minster House
33 Horseferry Road
London SW1P 4DR
Tel: 0300 330 3000
Contact DfT using their online form