Welsh train drivers vanish

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The Independent Online
THE JOURNEY should have been an introduction to a lifetime's travel on the scenic Welsh railways. But when David and Maureen Worsley took their two young daughters for their first train trip, it turned into a traumatic experience.

With a dozen other passengers, the family was stranded at nightfall at a deserted mid-Wales station with no train to take them home.

Mr and Mrs Worsley had decided to take Carys, three, and Eleri, 11 months, on a trip from their local station, Llandeilo, to Shrewsbury along the beautiful Heart of Wales line.

The journey started well and the Worsleys arrived in Shrewsbury on time. But then Mr Worsley overheard one of the station staff telling another traveller that his train service was being replaced by a bus.

The family wanted to return at 5.35pm, but "less than helpful" Central Trains station staff told Mr Worsley that "all services for the rest of the day were cancelled due to a shortage of drivers" and they would have to catch a bus. "We had only come out to experience the train journey and if we had been informed on boarding the service we would have elected to come another day," said Mr Worsley.

This was "just the beginning of a catalogue of disasters". The replacement bus that took them home was so oversubscribed that a disabled passenger and his two helpers were left behind. The coach eventually arrived one hour late at Llanwrtyd Wells station, where the Worsleys were to catch a connecting train.

But the station was "completely and utterly deserted" and it was only the thoughtfulness of the coach driver, who stayed with the 15-odd passengers, that saved the day.

He tried to contact Wales and West Trains, but got no response. After 50 minutes, the driver phoned his own boss and got permission to drive everyone home. "If it had not been for his generosity and resourcefulness the situation would have been unbearable. We would have been expected to wait for the first train the next day."

Wales and West Trains said an investigation has begun and an information system should be installed by November. "It was absolutely abysmal that anyone should be put in that situation," a spokesman admitted.

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