True stories from the Great Railway Disaster; No 53: so you want to get to or from Stockport

A weekly chronicle of the absurdities caused by the Government's privatisation programme
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The Independent Online
STOCKPORT seems to be the centre of chaos when it comes to lack of co-ordination between the rail companies, as Tim Gallagher and Dr Roger Iredale found out recently. Both were victims of an apparent unwillingness of the companies to co-operate in the event of a breakdown.

Dr Iredale found himself stranded at Stockport when a train in front of his broke down, blocking the two behind it. When he asked why his traincould not be backed out and continue by way of another platform, he was told: "The track is owned by Railtrack and we need to get permission at a high level before we can do anything like that."

Mr Gallagher had a similarexperience just after Christmas when the train he was taking from Euston to Stockport shuddered to a halt near Rugby. As a rail user, he was not surprised at the breakdown. But he was not expecting a four-hour wait for another engine and driver.

The conductor informed the restless passengers that although a spare engine was available at Rugby, it did not belong to InterCity West Coast and could not, therefore, be used. Instead, an engine was located in Wolverhampton; but because of the delay, another driver had to be found. A driver finally had to be summoned from London.

Mr Gallagher eventuallyreached Stockport at 0045 hours - and then the promised complimentary taxis failed to materialise.