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Railway Accommodation (First-Class Tickets)

Volume 389: debated on Tuesday 11 May 1943

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asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport whether he is aware that 130 first-class tickets were issued for the 8 a.m. train, from Newcastle to King's Cross, on Monday, 3rd May, with only seating accommodation for 70, and many of the passengers had to travel in the guard's van making up their own seating arrangements; and whether he will take steps to prevent such occurrences in future?

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport
(Mr. Noel-Baker)

The 8.5 a.m. train left Newcastle on 3rd May with the maximum number of coaches. There were go seats in first-class compartments, but 118 first-class passengers joined the train at Newcastle, and 16 others at Durham. Only 30 first-class tickets, however, were issued, the other first-class passengers were either officers of His Majesty's Forces, who travel on warrants and do not require tickets, or passengers who held return tickets. I am afraid, therefore, that the conditions of which my hon. Friend complains were unavoidable.

Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that both inspectors and porters appealed to people at Newcastle and at York to lift up their arm rests to allow four people to sit on one side where there were three sitting and that the selfish, unpatriotic people absolutely refused to do so?

As I understand it, I do not think they had the right to refuse. I think the inspectors should have insisted I will look into the point which my hon. Friend mentions.

Will the Parliamentary Secretary at least take steps to see that these arm rests are fastened back or otherwise take steps to take off the first-class compartments altogether, let everybody travel third class, and leave those people who are so ridiculous in travelling in wartime to be hustled about?

I said that I will look into the hon. Member's point. I think there was a breach of the instructions which have been given.