A FEW months ago I was travelling on a First Transpennine Express (FTPE) train between Bolton and Chorley and many people were standing.
Impressively, the conductor asked people to free up all available seats and then declassified the first-class carriage, so anyone could sit there.
It happened on at least five occasions during busy periods towards the end of last year and first-class ticket holders were invited to apply for a partial refund.
Since then, FTPE has had a lot to contend with after a big shake-up in the timetable due to the electrification of lines, which has led to some trains having fewer carriages and in some cases, overcrowding has worsened.
FTPE bosses have taken some positive steps, such as tweaking some services to ease overcrowding.
For example, an evening rush-hour train from Manchester Airport to Scotland via Bolton now runs via Wigan, but a new service running at the same time goes from Manchester Oxford Road to Windermere — and Bolton is just the second stop so lots of seats are free at that point.
But there seems to have been fewer instances when first class has been declassified at busy periods, despite continued overcrowding.
On Friday, March 14, First Great Western announced it was going to convert some first-class carriages to deliver 3,000 extra standard-class seats on high-speed services between eastern cities into London at peak times, from June onwards.
Perhaps FTPE should follow its lead and declassify first class more often.
There are occasions on FTPE trains when first class passengers have lots of space, with empty seats beside them, while some standard-class ticket holders have to stand and struggle for space.