True stories from the Great Railway Disaster

A weekly chronicle of the absurdities caused by privatisation; No 93: so you want to go to Barnsley?
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Paul Newman wanted to go to Barnsley on a Saturday, hoping to arrive by early afternoon. British Rail enquiries said he could get a Supersaver return for pounds 37, leaving London King's Cross at 11.10am and changing at Retford.

St King's Cross on the Saturday morning, however, he was told that it was not possible to use this route, because it was not an "approved journey".From King's Cross he would have to change at Doncaster and then at Meadowhall, but he would have to buy single tickets for each part of the journey, costing pounds 42.

As Mr Newman was travelling to a football match, making two connections seemed a large risk so he opted to travel from St Pancras, changing at Sheffield. But the 11 30 from St Pancras was delayed by "children on the line" and he missed the connection, forcing him to take a taxi at a cost of pounds 30.

The problem is that a "routeing guide", specifying which routes can be used for which journeys, is now in force. People who find their traditional routes "banned" should write to the Office of the Rail Regulator, 1 Waterhouse Sq, 138-142 Holborn, London EC1N 2ST.

"The Independent on Sunday's Great British Rail Disaster" by Christian Wolmar, which includes more than 60 items from this column, has 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).