David Adams – 1943 Question on Overcrowded Long Distance Trains

Below is the text of the question asked by David Adams, the then Labour for Consett, in the House of Commons on 11 March 1943.

Mr. David Adams

Asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport whether he is aware that long-distance trains are leaving King’s Cross with men, women and children passengers standing in the corridors for long periods, whilst first-class compartments are seating only six persons each; and whether, to remedy these hardships, he will give instructions that seating shall in future be not less than eight persons per compartment when required?

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport (Mr. Noel-Baker)

I share my hon. Friend’s anxiety that the passengers on the long-distance trains to which he refers shall be spared all avoidable discomfort. I understand, however, that the seating accommodation in these trains, both in first and third-class compartments, is already being used to its full capacity. In some first-class compartments the fixed projecting arm-rests make it impracticable to seat more than six persons. But the train attendants have been instructed that where first-class compartments can seat eight passengers in reasonable comfort, this additional accommodation must be used.

Mr. Adams

Why was not this obvious necessity put into force long ago?

Mr. Noel-Baker

Instructions were in fact given some time ago. If my hon. Friend will give me particulars of any case he has in mind, I will make inquiries.

Sir Granville Gibson

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that if I travel to Yorkshire this afternoon, I must be at the station at least half-an-hour before the train starts?

Mr. Noel-Baker

I know that pressure on the trains is very great, and I regret it, but it is an unavoidable necessity.

Miss Rathbone

Is the meaning of the regulation that, if there is an arm rest which can be raised, the train officers have a right to insist that it shall be raised?

Mr. Noel-Baker

Yes, that is the understanding.