LETTER: Didn’t think it could get worse

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I thought it couldn’t get worse but yesterday, Sunday, provided a real saga.

I had attended a reunion in Newcastle-on-Tyne, I left the Central Station there on the 10.00 train for King’s Cross.

At York we were advised that, as a consequence of a train hitting a cow somewhere near Peterborough, the East Coast mainline would be closed for several hours and passengers should therefore make their way across country to Manchester for onward trains to London.

One can imagine how crowded the Trans Penine train was with this avalanche of passengers!

At Manchester I managed to board the 13.35 train for Euston, standing room only of course. All went well until we hit a signal fault at a junction somewhere in the region of Tamworth I believe, this delayed us for a while, and we had only just set off again when the guard announced that the driver was ill and that we would stop at Nuneaton to await a replacement driver.

When this man arrived the guard announced that the driver would take us as far as Rugby where the train would terminate. Shortly afterwards another announcement said the driver would continue to Euston.

Duly arrived in London, over two and a half hours late, took the underground to Victoria to find that the 16.47, 17.47 and 18.47 to Eastbourne and Ore had been cancelled, the train information desk advised me to catch the 19.17 train to East Croydon and then to St. Leonards!

I took the alternative to wait for the 19.47 which eventually departed at 20.00. After a rather slow journey, 30 minutes to reach East Croydon, upon departure from Polegate the guard announced that the train would terminate at Eastbourne and that passengers for stations beyond should wait for the 22.08 Ashford train which would become an ‘all stations’.

Unfortunately no-one had told the Eastbourne staff about this, fortunately the train staff did know and we arrived at Cooden Beach at 22.28, not quite twelve and a half hours from starting the journey!

I have this dream that, as we seem incapable of running an efficient service ourselves, we would hand over the whole network to Chinese or Japanese operators, or anybody other than the present Luddites.

M. Burbidge

Wealden Way


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