Rush hour trains into London were faster in the age of steam than today


Steam trains quicker than plodding pace of modern rail traffic

A commuter group from Kent has revealed that modern trains from London now often run slower than they did when steam trains were in use.

It is the latest sorry display of what has been achieved in “improving” rail travel for passengers in the UK, who have endured steep fare rises, frequent overcrowding and incessant delays.

Bearsted Commuter Group, from Bearsted in Kent, said that in the 1950s, steam trains took between 1 hour 20 minutes and 1 hour 29 minutes to puff their way from the village to London Victoria, and took 1 hour 12 minutes on the return trip.

Today it takes Southeastern services up to 1 hour 21 minutes to complete the journey to London at peak times and 1 hour 16 minutes on the way back.

The group was set up by four disgruntled passengers last autumn. But after just five months it now boasts 50 members, all of whom must be even more disgruntled after learning about the sluggish trains.

Speaking to the Kent Messenger newspaper, a founder of the group, Helen Judges, said: “I hope things will change, particularly fares and timetables. We are disgruntled about late-running trains and while we appreciate we might not get 100% punctuality, there’s no point having a timetable if it happens this frequently.”

A recent survey by Which? has also revealed that Kentish commuters are among the most miserable in Britain.

The survey found that a third of all Southeastern trains suffered delays on their last trip.

According to the Express, a Southeastern spokesman said: “Over the last 50 years we have seen a sharp rise in passenger growth.

“This means that we now need to run more services and serve more stations than ever before whilst still running a service on the same infrastructure that was used 50 years ago.”

The only worse service was for passengers using Southern Rail, who reported even higher levels of disgruntled-ness.

Kate Neill, from Which?, said: “They’re at the bottom because they are providing a pretty poor service that is generally delayed, not very clean and overcrowded, so people are fed up with not getting a seat and paying for that privilege.”

Horse and cart?

And might it be quicker to use a horse and carriage than a car on the streets of London?

Well, given TfL reports, the average driving speed across central London as 8.98mph.

So you may as well sit in the gridlock in style!


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