True stories from the Great Railway Disaster

A weekly chronicle of the absurdities caused by the Government's privatisation programme; No 41: so you want to go the long way round?
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FAY PRIESTLEY of Selly Oak, Birmingham, has a Centro pass which allows her free travel in the West Midlands area. These passes are funded by local passenger transport executives and therefore are only valid on certain BR trains. Ms Priestley recently made a weekend return journey from London to Birmingham. She bought a return ticket to Coventry, and used her Centro pass for the rest of the journey to Birmingham.

However, on the return journey things were more complicated. There was engineering work on the line between Birmingham and Coventry and the only through trains to London were routed via Nuneaton. Ms Priestley was told that, as her Centro pass was not valid for trains to Nuneaton, she would have to take a bus to Coventry and get a Euston train from there. She knew the bus took twice as long and was less pleasant but she did not want to pay extra.

Imagine her surprise, then, when, at Coventry, she was told there were no trains to London and she would have to go via ... Nuneaton. And at Nuneaton, there was the train for Euston which had come from Birmingham. As she said, after having lugged her bags from a bus to a train and then over a bridge to another train "I could have boarded it at Birmingham and even got the one an hour before."

These types of restrictions on tickets pre-date privatisation but are part of the increasing disintegration of the formerly unified railway system.