So I asked them whether there is any quota that they have to meet in terms of “how squashed are the passengers?”. The answer was revealing. They are allowed a squashed passenger ratio of 135%. So if a carriage has 100 seats, they are allowed 35 passengers standing up. This is only for journeys shorter than 20 minutes.
These numbers were off the top of his head, so may not be exact.
I also asked about the number of carriages on during rush hour. He said that they had to reduce the numbers during January, to get ready for a big shift on maintenance rotas, which should allow more carriages to be used in future during the busiest periods. Which is good.
I heard a rumour ages ago that the train companies have to pay National Rail a fee per carriage, which is why it is in their interests to run the shortest possible trains (within the squashing quota). This is true, and also (he pointed out) makes sense, as more carriages use more electricity and wear the track down more.
All in all, I think it is a great idea to have the management standing out there, to at least find out what the passengers leaving the cattle trucks are thinking! I just wish it was a bit less squashed.