Fights, crammed carriages and 'no thought of safety' on train after Wales international in Cardiff
Photos taken on a packed train leaving Cardiff have shown the shocking level of crowding that passengers were forced to endure as they made their way home on Saturday night.Thousands of people arrived at the Welsh capital on Saturday to watch Wales’ World Cup qualifier against Belarus at the Cardiff City Stadium.
The game finished shortly after 9.30pm and thousands of fans who were there, along with thousands more watching in city centre bars, made their way to Cardiff Central train station to head home.
However, as images captured by one frustrated passenger show, it was anything but a comfortable journey.
In fact, fears have been raised that it was unsafe due to the ongoing Covid-19 situation in Wales which has seen some restrictions being brought back in, including the need to have a Covid pass to attend certain crowded events.Furthermore, the wearing of masks on public transport remains compulsory in Wales, but many were not doing so in the images captured on one train on Saturday night, although it is not known if some of those not wearing masks were exempt for medical reasons.
One passenger who was on the 11.13pm from Cardiff to Gloucester on Saturday night said a lot of people got off at Newport, but that the train was incredibly busy up to that point, where there was barely room to stand up, let alone sit down.
It was so packed, he said, that it was difficult for him to even get his phone out of his pocket.“You need a Covid pass to go to a club and a cinema but hundreds of people were crammed onto trains that I don't believe were fit for purpose," he said.
"This was the last train last night so it was most people’s last chance of getting home. People were kicking off and some fighting started. It was bonkers.”Cardiff is not unfamiliar with hosting large crowds for sporting events in the Covid-19 age.
For the past two weekends more than 70,000 rugby fans have packed into the Principality Stadium for test matches against New Zealand and South Africa, while thousands more were due to arrive in the city for the visit of Fiji on Sunday afternoon.
However, the difference in planning between those events and what was in place for the football international on Saturday could not have been more stark, according to the passenger.“There appeared to be no control about who was getting on the train and how many,” added the passenger.
“I went to Wales versus New Zealand a couple of weeks ago and that was a long wait but very controlled. This was a disaster.
"Whoever was running that service last night ought to look at the pictures and I believe they should be ashamed of themselves."
"Other areas of business are having to make tough decisions about how many people they allow into venues and how to keep people safe."The Welsh Government wants to increase the places that you need a Covid passport to visit but what is the point in all of that if at the end of the evening the train company packs hundreds of people onto a small train with no thought of safety?”The company operating the service in the images captured on Saturday night was Transport for Wales.
It has apologised to anyone travelling on its trains who experienced any disruption, but said passengers’ behaviour was down to “personal responsibility”.
A spokeswoman for Transport for Wales said: “We work hard to meet demand for our services and regularly review our timetables to ensure we are using carriages in the right place.
"Whilst all our available carriages are in use, demand for services can sometimes exceed availability.
"As a result, we were required to amend some services following yesterday’s Wales international football match, and we apologise to passengers for this disruption to their journey.“We want all our passengers to have a safe and enjoyable journey with us, and we expect passengers travelling with us to take personal responsibility for their actions and behaviour.
“Incidents on-board our services can be reported to the British Transport Police by texting 60106, however, emergencies should always be reported to 999.“Whilst all our available train carriages are in service, we always advise passengers to plan ahead.
"Passengers can consider whether they want to travel on trains that are likely to be busy, based on information from our Capacity Checker tool.
"We advise passengers to socially distance where possible and urge them to wear a face covering unless they are exempt. Full details can be found on our website."
A spokesman for the Welsh Government said: “We urge people to follow the regulations to help keep each other safe and keep Wales open throughout the autumn and winter.
"This includes wearing face coverings on public transport. We expect train operators and stations to have measures in place to ensure people are able to travel safely.”
Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for Transport, Natasha Asghar MS, has since spoken out about the Transport for Wales overcrowding and "shocking" services.
She said: “Sadly, Labour ministers and bosses at Transport for Wales haven’t learnt any lessons and when I raised it, the blame was placed on the UK government. It’s about time the Welsh government took responsibility for Welsh issues like this.
“Overcrowding on trains is becoming more frequent, but yet nothing changes, despite these games being in the sporting diary months in advance.
"Despite us calling for more carriages to be put on following overcrowding after a Wales rugby match, staff at the Labour government-owned body are just closing their eyes and hoping the problem goes away.
“They must stop ignoring this serious issue and take action to finally get a grip on it because Welsh passengers deserve so much better than the service they are currently experiencing.”
British Transport Police chose not to comment when asked about reported incidents on trains at or leaving Cardiff on Saturday night.