7.31am Monday morning, I stand once again on the platform of Horsforth station awaiting the train into Leeds.
Its only three stops out of the city on the Harrogate line and so the train is almost at the end of its journey from either York or Harrogate by the time it arrives at the first station within the Leeds boundary, its a popular service for commuters and from 7.31am its on a quarter hour frequency.
I don’t use the service very often, once a month or so, on the occasions when I’m catching a train to Birmingham from Leeds station, but on every occasion that I have caught the commuter train from Horsforth at that time of a morning I have never once found a seat on the train.
Monday morning was pretty typical, the train pulls into the station and the regulars, the ones who have to put up with this hellish mode of transport every day, my eldest daughter included, all strain forward to see how many carriages it has this morning, its two again, its nearly always two although at random intervals, completely unpredictable random intervals, its sometimes three.
Whether its two or three you still have to stand, they could probably seat most of the commuters if it was four carriages but I’ve never seen four, its an urban myth is four carriages, its never actually happened.
So on Monday there are two carriages and I’m standing again in the aisle of the front one and when its tops at Headingley more people want to get on and so we are implored to “move down inside please” whereas if we could then we already would have, but we shuffle closer together anyway and another twenty or so people squeeze on, and then it stops at Burley Park and there are more people trying to get on and there are now far more people standing on this train than are sitting and your mind does start to wander and you wonder while its wandering just exactly how these idiots of train operators are ever granted a licence and if they are then is there a legal limit to the number of people you can wedge into a train for this one is starting to look like Norris McWhirter should be stood on the platform with a clipboard and declaring to Roy Castle that yes, this one is a record breaker (cue trumpet music and tap dancing from poor dead Roy).
And while my mind is wandering and I’m taking it in turns to breath in and out with the person wedged next to me I think up one of my very good ideas and its blindingly simple in its execution…
Just take out all the seats.
Take out all of the seats and you’d be able to shove in double the numbers that you do now, its the bloody seats that are causing the congestion, its the bloody seats that are getting in the way, remove them and Shazam! problem solved and loads more capacity created at no additional expense.
Better still it would make the services safer.
Just think about it, with hundreds of standing passengers wedged into a carriage, none of them are going to move very far should the train hit anything on its journey, you could completely derail the train or run it headlong into the buffers at Leeds City Station and while the carriages may bend and twist a little, while glass may break, the people inside won’t have anywhere to go, they’ll be wedged in so solidly that only the merest shimmer of a shockwave will shiver through them and down the carriage, they will have formed one perfect shock absorber.
Go on Northern Rail, you know you want to do it, take all the seats out and stop having your drivers have to make an apologetic announcement as he arrives into Leeds City Station like he had to on Monday and probably does every day, he sounded as pissed off about his bosses as the passengers are.
Better still you could probably put the prices up again, “Northern Rail, No Seats To Bother With”, there, I’ve got the advertising done already.