True stories from the Great Railway Disaster

A weekly chronicle of the absurdities caused by the Government's privatisation programme
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The Independent Online
Passengers in West Croydon have been bemused to find that the number of trains in the off-peak times to Epsom has doubled recently. While this may seem to offer them a more comprehensive train service, the new trains are not particularly useful because they operate just four minutes before each of the normal trains. The new trains, which run at 24 and 54 past the hour, are run by South West Trains, while the other long-established service, which runs from Victoria, is at 28 and 58 past the hour.

One bemused traveller, Colin Budd, told the Mad column: "It seems they've got nothing to do with this rolling stock during the day, so they're putting on the extra trains in order to poach a bit of the revenue from the line." Under revenue-sharing arrangements created under privatisation and now operated by the Association of Train Operating Companies, fare income is shared out on the basis of the number of trains run.

"The Independent on Sunday's Great British Rail Disaster" by Christian Wolmar, which includes more than 60 items from this column, has just been published by Ian Allan at pounds 5.99. If you have difficulty obtaining a copy, send a cheque or postal order, or a Visa/Access authorisation, to: The Great British Railway Disaster, Ian Allan Ltd, Coombelands House, Coombelands Lane, Addlestone, Surrey, KT15 1HY. (Tel: 01932 855909 ext 235/236).

No 83: so you want a regular train service?