Tales from the misery lines

Great Railway Fiascos: Readers' Letters
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The Independent Online
The missing seats

David Selby, 62, from Lytham St Anne's, Lancashire, told us of his daughter's journey on a Virgin train from Milton Keynes to Preston - after it turned out the seats she had reserved for herself and her two young children did not exist. He wrote: "When the train drew in there was no coach E. It went from C to F. In addition there was something wrong with the engine, thus extending this stressful experience." His daughter was given pounds 5 compensation.

A never-ending journey

Margery Smith's trip from her home in Driffield, East Yorkshire, to Chippenham, Wiltshire, took a staggering 19 hours. Problems started in Birmingham,where the Virgin train was terminated because of flooding. Passengers were stranded for three and a half hours. Approaching London at 1am, it was announced that the train was going to travel on goods lines at 10mph. Mrs Smith finally arrived at her daughter's at 5am - having set off at 10am the day before.

The unscheduled stops

Adrian Gammon, a businessman, was travelling between Stamford and Bristol when the engine of his Central Train failed, forcing him to get on to a Virgin train. He wrote: "The Virgin train was awful; dirty old rolling stock that kept making unscheduled stops. Passengers kept coming to the buffet only to find it shut. When it opened they had run out of sandwiches. The WC had no toilet paper or soap."

An unaccepted ticket

Sarah Greengrass bought a pounds 57 London Underground young person discount card for her 16-year-old daughter only to find it was not accepted by Silverlink, which runs the North London Line. Instead she was forced to buy the full adult London Transport monthly pass, which costs pounds 82. "I wrote to the chairman of Silverlink threatening him with a plague of locusts and boils. He informed me that their bottom line `is to make money, or at least not to lose it'."

Seven trains in six hours

William McBride, from Bristol, missed an important meeting with a client in Wigan because of a "horrendous" Virgin train journey that took more than six hours and involved seven different trains. "In principle, I prefer to travel by train as it avoids the stress of driving and enables me to prepare for my meetings," he wrote.

Do you have a railway fiasco story? Write to: Great Railway Fiascos, The Independent Newsdesk, 1 Canada Square, London E14 5DL. Or e-mail newseditor@independent.co.uk