DOES anyone remember that slogan “let the train take the strain’? 

Well I do, and think that it should be changed, because now train journeys cause strain. Let me explain.

I am a frequent traveller to London as well as to the north of England. I have just come back from Paddington after what I can only describe as a journey from hell. 

I was in London for the BBC’s Proms and meeting up with friends, and very enjoyable it was, too. I wish I could say the same about my journey.

While going on the Saturday, the air conditioning was not on, the train was 13 minutes late. Coming back on Monday was a different story.

The 11.30am from Paddington was so full that every space was jam packed with people, there were no seats available, the space by the toilets was so packed with people and luggage that it was not possible to get through the door.

No-one from GWR was on hand to either guide or help.

I had decided to not go on the train. On the platform I saw one of the crew and asked her if it was safe to have such overcrowding? What if there was an emergency of some kind, or if someone had a heart attack?

‘Oh,’ she said. ‘We don’t have emergencies, and a lot of people might get down at Reading’.

‘Might’! So it was fine to dispatch a dangerously packed train on the assumption that some might get down after a journey of 35 minutes?

The second train, which I boarded at 12.30pm, was no better; standing room only, luggage piled so high by the doors that should an emergency arise it will be impossible to evacuate; the air conditioning didn’t work and we arrived in Taunton almost an hour late. Oh, I forgot, they don’t have emergencies.

At Taunton station there were hordes of harassed passengers with kids in tow looking for the “bus to Minehead”! Probably the Butlin’s holidaymakers. Again, there was no-one to guide them.

I travel by Virgin trains regularly. They are clean, punctual and at Stockport where I get off, there are always two to three Virgin staff present to help and advise.

Only once that train was overcrowded as there was a football match on, and the manager kept apologising and coming round to see if they can provide seats for those who couldn’t stand.

Would it be beyond the modern technology to only issue tickets to fill a certain capacity, which is safe and is comfortable for the passengers?

How do other countries in Europe and elsewhere manage?

I feel GWR should remove the “great” from their name. There is nothing great about charging extortionate prices and providing appalling service. 

Shame on you.