A TRAIN operator has apologised after passengers were “packed like sardines” into carriages for a journey from London to Sunderland.
One woman had to be treated after she passed out, while others chose not to board the train after they saw how cramped conditions were on it.
Operator Grand Central today apologised for the problems, which it says were caused by other services from the capital having to be cancelled.
Dianne Snowdon, of Washington, was returning home after a Christmas shopping trip and had booked seats on the 3.40pm Sunday service back up to Wearside.
She said: “We got on and saw the train was so full, there were people standing in the toilets.
“They were refusing to let the train leave until everyone was on board.
“We stood for 45 minutes waiting and then decided we’d had enough.”
Dianne and her friends eventually managed to get an East Coast train back up to the city.
Hayley Price, 30, who was travelling from London to Doncaster, said: “This was my first experience travelling on a Grand Central train and, quite frankly, I was disgusted.
“There was no communication between the staff and the passengers as to what was happening with the delay.
“One of the members of staff demanded that everyone move down the train, but they couldn’t actually move anywhere because there was nowhere to go.
“We were stood on the train from when we finally got on at 4.10pm to when we got off at Doncaster at just after 7pm.
“We had pre-booked seats which we couldn’t use as the train was that full.
“We were crammed in so much that someone had passed out.”
Another 36-year-old traveller, heading back home to Sunderland, said: “We were squashed in, but no one seemed to care. We stood for what seemed like forever just waiting to set off.
“Even though we were packed in like sardines, none of the staff seemed bothered.”
The train operator said the problems stemmed from maintenance being carried out on the East Coast mainline on Sunday.
A spokeswoman added: “Grand Central were only allowed one train to depart on the day instead of the usual four.
“Passengers were notified of this on the company’s website one month prior to the day.
“Because of the reduced number of trains, there was an increased demand for this particular service, which led to a high volume of passengers.
“Because of the amount of people waiting to board, Grand Central missed two slots, which led to them running behind schedule.
“The company ensured they had their largest train to cope with the increase in demand.
“Staff moved large bags to try to make room to accommodate passengers.”
The company also offered commuters the opportunity to travel up yesterday instead.
A spokeswoman added: “We would like to apologise for any inconvenience, and we are offering compensation to those delayed and to those who had booked seating but had to stand for the journey.”