True stories from the Great Railway Disaster

A weekly chronicle of the absurdities caused by the Government's privatisation programme: No 71; so you want to go via Bromsgrove?
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Clive Walder travels daily from Bournville to Worcester. For a year, he had been making the journey by taking a bus to Birmingham New Street and then a train to Worcester via Bromsgrove. But when he went to renew his season ticket he was told he had to travel via Kidderminster. This takes 20 minutes longer and the trains run from Birmingham Moor Street, which is more difficult for him to get to by bus.

The explanation is that Mr Walder has a Centro card. This allows him to use buses and trains in the Birmingham area which are subsidised by West Midlands Passenger Transport Executive. However, the train services via Bromsgrove are operated by Central (not Centro) railways and therefore his Centro card is not valid for travel on them.

Mr Walder says: "Because of the time it takes to get from New Street to Moor Street, I miss the train by a minute or two. So in order to get a train that arrives in Worcester seven minutes later than the train I have been getting, I have to leave home half an hour earlier."

He points out that, until the break-up of the railways in preparation for privatisation, ticket inspectors never objected to him travelling on the Bromsgrove train.

The "Independent on Sunday's Great British Rail Disaster" by Christian Wolmar, which includes 60 items from this column, is to be published on 6 June by Ian Allan at pounds 5.99. Independent on Sunday readers can obtain advance copies of the book for pounds 4.99 by sending 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. Cheques will not be cashed until the books are despatched just after publication.

The Great Train Robbery, Sunday Review