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No 84: so you want to know when the train is?; True stories from the Great Railway Disaster

A weekly chronicle of the absurdities caused by the Government's privatisation programme
One of the most common complaints about privatisation is the lack of information on stations run by one company about services run by another. The "Mad" column has been swamped by such complaints.

One chap, a railwayman who must remain anonymous, reports that at Charing Cross no train information is available, except on the train indicator board, about services run by companies other than South Eastern. He says South Eastern claims it is unable to display such information, even though it is in the national timetable. The railman also says that at Darlington, no information is available about the Middlesbourgh to Saltburn line.

At Newbury, Terence Boughton reports that the station is "covered with posters headed Departures but in fact these only list departures of Thames Trains which end at Bedwyn. There is no indication whatever that one can travel on InterCity to Taunton or Exeter or Plymouth."

Finally, Joe Weiss wanted to go to Bromley South from Blackfriars, a Thameslink station. The services are run by South Eastern and he was told by the clerk: "They haven't given us any pocket timetables" Mr Weiss was told that the office did not even have a phone number for South Eastern. He points out that Blackfriars has 80 trains per day by South Eastern.

"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 ex 235/236).