Taking the train can be a strain

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The Independent Online
The captains of British industry tested out the country's newly- privatised rail network over the weekend - but found that when it comes to getting there you cannot beat the motor car, writes Michael Harrison.

Adair Turner, director general of the CBI, decided to let the train take the strain as he journeyed up from London to Harrogate on Saturday night for the organisation's annual beano. He had got little more than halfway when he discovered that Railtrack and Great North Eastern Railways - what used to be BR's East Coast Mainline - had other ideas.

His InterCity 125 arrived at Newark station in Nottinghamshire and stayed there for two hours. Passengers were eventually told that vandals had stolen the signalling cable between Newark and Retford.

An alternative route was plotted via Lincoln but by then Mr Turner, travelling with his personal assistant, had had enough of the railways. He marched outside the station, jumped into a mini-cab and ordered it to take him the remaining 80 miles to the Moat House Hotel, Harrogate.

The taxi fare was pounds 80, a sum Mr Turner intends to claim back. He can either send the claim form to Jim Sherwood, whose Sea Containers Groupowns Great North Eastern Railways, or Chris Garnett, brother of Heritage Secretary Virginia Bottomley, who runs the business. But one word of caution.

The privatised rail operators are not obliged to cough up a penny in compensation when the cause of the delay was not their direct fault. Some things never change.