Thirty reasons why passengers are unhappy

HERE ARE just 30 rail incidents which have taken place in Britain so far this year. There are many, many more which could have been selected.

1The Health and Safety Executive launches an investigation after it is revealed that tens of thousands of passengers are potentially at risk from 250 "lightweight" Pacer trains which, it is feared, are less able to withstand high-speed impacts.

2Railtrack and its contractor, First Engineering, blamed for the derailment of a coal train on the main Edinburgh-to-Aberdeen line at Burntisland, Fife, after failing to spot faulty track that had moved apart.

3 Central Trains has to re-evaluate its proposed new rolling stock after one of its test trainswas jammed at Stamford near Peterbrough.

4Five people seriously injured and another 31 hurt in the Winsford train crash in Cheshire when a Virgin Express passenger train ran into the back of a stationary train during the morning rush hour.

5Thousands of holidaymakers' plans thrown into chaos when the computers of Motorail, the UK booking arm of French Railways, collapsed, leading to double bookings and incorrect tickets. More than 4,000 ticket applications were kept in shoeboxes while the 12-year-old computer system was repaired.

6 A head-on collision involving two passenger trains carrying hundreds of commuters was only prevented at the last minute when a trackside rail worker waved down the drivers.

7Connex accused of missing out stations on a South-east commuter service into London in order to meet 100 per cent timetable targets. Passengers claimed the 6.20am from Ramsgate to Charing Cross missed out at least three scheduled stops because it was running late.

8 Engineering group Balfour Beatty fined pounds 500,000 at Chelmsford Crown Court for breaching health and safety regulations following the derailing of a train in Essex in September 1997.

9 More warnings for Railtrack from the Health and Safety Executive which issued it with improvement notices on its 82 miles of line between Carlisle and Settle following a landslide near Kirkby Stephen in Cumbria which derailed a passenger train. The derailed train was then hit by a freight train.

10Connex warned it will face heavy fines after failing to produce an Easter timetable for passengers. This follows criticism of 25 train operating companies for not producing clear information for passengers. Connex blamed the non-existence of the Easter timetable on "computers".

11Five people injured after two commuter trains collided at 5.35pm near London Bridge station after one came off the rails. The crash caused huge disruption.

12South West Trains completed paying a penalty of nearly pounds 3.7m to the Shadow Strategic Rail Authority for missing targets on punctuality, capacity and timetable changes.

13Widespread disruption caused by the closure of the 130-year-old Severn Tunnel linking England and Wales for repairs for three weekends in May.

14 A rail worker left a cleaner to operate signals for rush hour trains at London Bridge station while he went off to play pool. He was later sacked by Connex.

15 The Connex 12.06pm Charing Cross to Ramsgate service left early after a signal from a ticket collector on the platform was misinterpreted as the train being "waved off".

16Virgin Trains said Railtrack's planned upgrading of the West Coast Main Line to accommodate high-speed tilting trains will cause chaos for three years. Birmingham to London services reduced to one an hour at weekends when work finally starts on a date to be fixed.

17Transport minister Glenda Jackson admitted buses could provide "infinitely better" services than trains after bosses at Cardiff Wales & Western said their rail route would be better served by buses.

18Connex announces a pounds 2m scheme to shave off half an inch from 40 platforms after it emerged new trains it had ordered were too wide for its ageing south-east commuter network.

19The pounds 3billion Jubilee Line Extension is held hostage by workers who threaten industrial action unless they are offered up to pounds 3,000 each for finishing the project on time for the new Millennium.

20Tens of thousands of commuters face nine weeks of misery after the City branch of London Underground's North London Line is closed for repairs.

21London Underground bosses are forced to close down the busy Circle Line after attempts to run a reduced service while engineering works is carried out ends up in chaos for its 220,000 daily users.

22Hundreds of passengers are left stranded 20 miles outside Birmingham after their Virgin train ran out of fuel. The service from Newcastle to Bristol had to be towed to Birmingham after grinding to a halt near Stamworth, Staffs.

23Rail regulator warns Railtrack it could face unlimited fines after it fails to meet targets for reducing delays to trains caused by its track and services.

24Farmers are upset by Railtrack leaflet that praises the spread of the Oxford Ragwort thanks to Railtrack - the plant is poisonous to cattle that graze near rail lines.

25Passengers travelling in the North-east mistakenly told of unfeasibly large detour when a Railtrack poster warns that York-to-Newcastle trains will go via Stockport. The poster should have said Stockton-on-Tees.

26Rail freight's renaissance appears to be fading following road haulage firm Eddie Stobart's desire to run rail freight on the west coast. It ran just four trains and sources said Stobart was now "cool" on the idea.

27Outdated rolling stock and slam door trains used by long-suffering commuters attract the ire of Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott. He tells rail firms to phase them out by 2004, three years ahead of schedule.

28 GNER forced to modernise old rolling stock because the Government will not stump up millions required to bring in rolling stock after growth on the line exceeds company forecasts.

29Bank worker Tim Middleton escaped with his life - and 60 stiches - after roofing at Temple Meads station in Bristol came off during repairs and hit him.

30A report blamed Railtrack and other rail companies for the serious Bexley accident in London in 1997 in which four workmen were injured

Do you have your own story of a railway fiasco? Write and let us know about it at:

Great Railway Fiascos

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