True stories from the Great Railway Disaster; No 81: So you want a taxi from the station?

A weekly chronicle of the absurdities caused by the Government's privatisation programme
Click to follow
The Independent Online
Carol Regis recently arrived at Newhaven on a late train to discover that there were apparently no taxis or a telephone within easy reach. There used to be a piece of land outside Newhaven Town station where taxis waited. However, it has been mysteriously "bollarded off", as a spokesman for the local train company, Network SouthCentral, Chris Randall, put it, and taxis can no longer use it.

Mr Randall was unable to say who had put the bollards there: "It is either the BR Property Board or Railtrack, but we have not managed to get to the bottom of it," he said.

The Independent on Sunday managed to track down the land to the BR Property Board which said it used to rent thepatch to a taxi firm which ended the agreement. Although the land has no conceivable other use, the board says it "has to make a commercial return" on it and therefore put up the bollards. set in concrete, to ensure taxis could not use it.

Mr Randall said there was a telephone at the station and information about the local taxi firm, but Ms Regis did not find it, possibly because it is on the London-bound platform, or because it was dark. Either way, unable to walk far because she was carrying cases, she caught a train back to the previous station, Lewes, in order to get a taxi to her destination in Newhaven.

8 '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 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).

Examples of railway folly should be sent in envelopes marked "Mad" to:

Christian Wolmar, Independent on Sunday, 1 Canada Square, London E14 5DL.