HUNDREDS of school children were forced to get the same train as commuters yesterday morning after a service from Benfleet station was cancelled.

The 7.28am train from Benfleet was cancelled after the passenger alarm was activated, which saw crowds of children pile onto the carriages and flood station platforms causing major problems for social distancing.

Shocking pictures showed carriages full with school children, mixed with commuters, heading to Southend. Despite face coverings being mandatory on public transport, not every passenger appeared to be wearing one.

Mary Yellop, 57, whose daughter attends Southend High School for Girls, was unhappy that her 14-year-old had been put in such a position.

She told the Echo: “My daughter text me in the morning about what happened. She was going to wait and get on the next train but she didn’t want to be late.

“She said she could barely breath when all the kids rushed to get off at the same stop and were squashed like sardines on the platform trying to get out.

“I’m not happy at all that there wasn’t even any staff to manage the situation. They were all left to their own devices and rushing to get out at the same time. It was a pretty stressful situation for them all to be in.”

Pupils from what appeared to be St. Bernards School got off at Westcliff station, unable to social distance, while things took a turn for the worst at Southend East, as Southend High for Girls students filled the platform when leaving the train to head to their school at Southchurch Boulevard.

A spokesman for c2c, said: “We have been working hard with local schools to provide a smooth daily commute for pupils since the start of the month, including running longer trains and providing extra staff.

“However this morning one service to Southend had to be cancelled after the passenger alarm was activated on an earlier train. We are sorry for the impact this had on people’s journeys.”