Two years, £500,000 and 178 pages to tell us that we want our trains to be on time and uncrowded!

It was the biggest-ever study of overcrowding on Britain’s railways, taking two years and costing the taxpayer £500,000 as commuters were secretly filmed as they struggled in to work.

But last night the 178-page report for the Rail Safety and Standards Board was condemned as ‘an astonishing exercise in rehashing the blindingly obvious’ – for revealing people are happiest when trains are on time and they can sit down.

To nobody’s surprise, it concluded passengers avoid situations ‘where they are likely to be pushed and shoved’ and that they ‘choose to position themselves away from others to maintain a space around them and minimise discomfort’.

They ‘often seek out suitable seating in preference to standing’, and ‘their emotional state before the journey can affect their tolerance towards others’.

Another less-than-astonishing finding is that putting belongings on a seat discourages others from sitting down, and that commuters are likely to be in a better mood in the evening than the morning because they are on their way home.

The consultants concluded people are likely to be in a ‘positive emotional state’ if their train is punctual and announcements are audible and comprehensible, and in a ‘negative’ frame of mind if the service is late and no one tells them why.

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