True stories from the Great Railway Disaster; No 97: so you want to make a connection ?

A weekly chronicle of the absurdities of privatisation programme
Click to follow
This is one of the hardy perennials of this column, but has not been mentioned recently. Ourpostbag, though, has been bulging with tales such as the following.

Nicholas Jones wanted to travel from Hereford to Machynlleth in mid-Wales. He rang the national enquiry service and was advised to catch the Regional Railways South Wales and West 8.24am from Hereford, to arrive at Shrewsbury for 9.20am.

There he was to board a Central Trains 9.25am to Machynlleth, but he was warned that this was not an official connection as "none of the services during the day are now advertised as connecting services".

No chance. His Hereford train was slightly late and pulled in sluggishly to the station. Mr Jones says he was the third passenger off the train and it was only a 30-yard walk, but nevertheless the second train pulled out of the station just as he approached it. Being a forceful fellow, Mr Jones complained vociferously to the station master, who happened to be standing beside him on the platform. "You'll just have to wait for the next train," he was told. That was not due until 11.23am.

Undeterred, Mr Jones demanded that the station master consulted his superiors and after some heated words, RRSW&W's regional controller allowed him to hire a local taxi to complete his round trip of over 100 miles at a cost of pounds 50.

Mr Jones says: "Adjusting the morning timetable by five minutes would surely be cheaper in the long run."