Town Centre Councillor, Sir Ron Watson, has taken a particular interest in the significant investment of over £450m by Merseyrail in respect of new carriages to be used all across the system.
Sir Ron said
“I understand that a great many of these have already been delivered and whilst we should not underestimate the investment that has gone into this service one of the concerns that I have expressed relates to the fact that whilst Merseyrail do stress that seating capacity will be increased this has been achieved by the introduction of very significant areas of what is referred to as ‘airline seating’.
I am actually afraid that this is actually a euphemism for the fact that the seats will be smaller and closer together whilst the public consultation on the issue clearly showed a public preference for the retention of the current 4x4 format.
Put in simple terms, in the airline seating sections if you are in the window seat it will not be possible to exit unless the person sitting next to you is getting off at the same station but who will in any event have to get up and leave their seat to enable you to leave and on crowded trains where there is additional capacity for standing there is no point in pretending that this will not be a problem.
However, this issue has been brought into sharp relief by the current Covid-19 situation and it looks as if to at least some degree social distancing will have to be in existence for a long period of time it is not possible to see how this can be achieved unless the number of passengers could actually be reduced virtually in half which hardly seems practical.
I think I know enough about the dedication of Merseyrail to provide the best possible service they can in all circumstances and that they will be well aware of this situation but I hope they will be able to come up with a practical solution quickly as the carriages are simply being stored at the moment in various locations across the region.”