Flooding, tube strikes and engineering works have wreaked havoc with commuters travelling over the festive period
It’s unlikely that Albert Einstein would have uttered the immortal line: “I love to travel, but hate to arrive” had he experienced the recent flooding, over-running engineering works and generally poor upkeep of the country’s rail infrastructure that conspired to wreck people’s holiday plans this winter.
It started on Boxing Day, when a tube strike wrecked the plans of people hoping to move around the capital. Then on 27 December there were no trains were running between Paddington station in London and Heathrow airport, or between Paddington and Reading in Berkshire.
In the Midlands, a freight train derailment led to delays to services between East Midlands Parkway and Leicester/Peterborough. London Midland services in the Birmingham area were also delayed. The south-west region had huge problems, as did parts of Scotland.
On Friday 28 December the chaos continued, with Southeastern passengers hit by over-running engineering works at Rochester in Kent; while passengers with East Midlands Trains and Greater Anglia also suffered when a signalling problem led to delays of up to 60 minutes to rush-hour trains travelling through Norwich. Signal problems and vandalism also hit rail lines in northern England.
While consumers will be able to claim compensation for delays and cancellations, it can never make up for a lost day spent either sitting on an immobile train or shuffling on and off replacement bus services – especially if it results in someone missing a seasonal family gathering.
During the Christmas period, I’ve been commuting between Brighton and London St Pancras using First Capital Connect’s service – shaky at the best of times. But, remarkably, it’s been punctual and incident-free since 24 December (on the weekend before Christmas there was hardly any service at all on the Brighton line, due to a fire in a signal box).
But I’m one of the lucky ones. It took a colleague an entire day to get from Exeter St David’s to London Paddington – a journey that would usually take two and a half hours.
We want to know how your travel has been disrupted over the holiday period. Tell us of your nightmare journeys. What was the cause? How long was the delay? How did staff treat passengers? Have you claimed compensation? Let’s try and build a picture of just how poor Britain’s rail network has been this winter.