A TRAIN operator has apologised after passengers were “packed like sardines” into carriages for a journey from London to Hartlepool.
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 apologised for the problems, which it says were caused by other services from the capital having to be cancelled.
Dianne Snowdon was returning to Sunderland after a Christmas shopping trip and had booked seats on the 3.40pm Sunday service.
She said: “We got on and saw the train was so full, there were people standing in the toilets.”
Dianne and her friends decided to get off the train after it waited for 45 minutes at the platform and instead used an East Coast service.
Another 36-year-old traveller 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 on Monday 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.”