‘This is 2013, not 1983’ – Norwich City fans’ anger at FA Cup tie train service
Furious Norwich City fans have hit out after transport chaos forced them to stand on overcrowded trains to get to their team’s FA Cup tie at Peterborough.
Canaries supporters arriving at Norwich train station early on Saturday morning were met with huge queues as hundreds of fans tried to get through the ticket gates to make their way to London Road for the third-round match.
And when they did get through they found the hourly East Midlands Trains services to Peterborough packed to capacity, with passengers standing in aisles the length of the train and travellers at other stops unable to board the full train.
Fans used Twitter to voice their anger at the poor conditions to and from the game, despite the operator adding extra capacity to one service in each direction, and raised questions over the scheduling of the extra carriages and the safety of carrying so many passengers.
Norwich City chief executive David McNally also used the social network to agree with one supporter’s complaint at the “disgraceful planning”, while the chairman of a Norwich City supporters’ group has demanded an apology from the train company management, who he says should “hang their heads in shame”.
Greater Anglia, which operates the station, said it had drafted in extra staff for the day and had put on two non-stop coaches to Peterborough to deal with the backlog of fans, as well as operating a one-off 10-carriage football special service in each direction.
East Midlands Trains, the regular operator of the Norwich to Peterborough line, doubled the length of the 11.57am service to Peterborough to four carriages and ran a six-carriage return at 5.39pm.
A spokesman said the company and Greater Anglia had “worked hard to provide the maximum extra capacity possible”, and put on around 500 extra seats during the day, but had also had to add extra capacity to trains for Tranmere Rovers’ tie at Derby County.
“As with any special event on our network, we need to balance the need to provide extra seats whilst ensuring we continue to maintain normal services for passengers across other parts of our network,” she added.
“We’re sorry to hear that some supporters were unhappy with the service provided and we will review the arrangements we put in place in conjunction with Greater Anglia.”
Nev Townsend, chairman of the Forces 2 Canaries supporters’ group, compared the travelling conditions to those endured by football fans 30 years ago.
“This is 2013, not 1983,” he said. “They didn’t extend the trains – they should have doubled them. You couldn’t move on board, you couldn’t get to the toilets.”
Mr Townsend travelled on the 9.57am service to Peterborough on a £10 advance group saver ticket, with friends. They decided to wait for the 8.41pm return train in an effort to avoid the crowds, but found that train just as busy.
“The train company must have known the number of people there would be travelling, so why didn’t they extend the trains?”
Mr Townsend said supporters deserved an apology from East Midlands Trains for the standard of the service.
“I feel we were treated very badly,” he said. “They should hang their heads in shame in my opinion.”
Norwich fan Caroline Clarke was among the last to get on the 9.57am service and spent the journey standing next to two police officers.
“If it had kicked off on the train they couldn’t have got to the trouble never mind stopped it,” she said.
“I can’t believe EMT thought that fans would be getting a train that got you in only 90 minutes before kick-off and want to leave immediately after, so only increased those.”
A spokesman for Greater Anglia said staff from both companies had worked together to get supporters on the trains to the match.
He added: “We also arranged to run two non-stop bus services to Peterborough to assist with moving passengers as quickly as we could.
“The scheduled EMT services were always expected to be busy which is why we took the decision to run the special train given the numbers travelling.”
No one at Norwich City was available for comment last night.
Were you on the trains to and from Peterborough yesterday? What did you think of the service? Leave your comments below or email firstname.lastname@example.org