Tory transport minister vents fury at rail firm and ‘smirking guard’ after missing train by 15 seconds

‘There must be some discretion in situations like this’

Zamira Rahim
Wednesday 07 August 2019 15:13 BST
Tory transport minister vents fury at rail firm and ‘smirking guard’ after missing train by 15 seconds

A newly appointed transport minister has furiously criticised Greater Anglia after a train was not held for him.

George Freeman travelled from London‘s King’s Cross station to Cambridge on Tuesday, where he planned to change to a train bound for Norwich.

But the MP’s first train ran late, causing him to miss his connection by seconds.

The Department for Transport minister took to Twitter to vent his anger at the train company.

He appeared particularly annoyed that the guard had not held the train for passengers to board.

“So. Not good [Greater Anglia]. You knew the connecting train was late,” he said.

“Your guard could see us running.

“As 5 of us passengers sprinted to catch the 9.09, the guard watched us running, closed the doors, waved off the train, leaving us stranded for an hour, then smirked & ignored us.”

A Greater Anglia spokesperson replied to the transport minister on Twitter, explaining that trains could not be held.

“Sorry to hear that George, however we cannot hold services for other operator late trains in most cases,” the spokesperson said.

“Not even for 15 seconds when passengers from a connection are AT THE DOOR?!” Mr Freeman said.

“I understand you can’t make trains run late – but there must be some discretion in situations like this when it’s 15 seconds for your CUSTOMERS (who have bought a ticket from you). If not ..... why have guards?”

The exchange prompted amusement online, with several commenters suggesting the minister should nationalise rail services.

“Nationalisation? Seriously? That won’t sort it,” the transport minister said.

“We need bolder localisation, integration + incentivisation for integrated sustainable transport & housing solutions.”

On Wednesday, Mr Freeman said Greater Anglia had acknowledged that the guard should have held the train.

“It seems my highlighting the issue of 'disconnection' experience by so many passengers has attracted some interest. Good,” he said.

“As the new Minister for Transport Connectivity I intend to be a passengers champion. When a passenger buys a ticket from A to B they should be able to expect an integrated *service*.

“The payment is integrated. So should the service be. In this case, where passengers were running from a connecting train, the guard should have used his discretion, as [Greater Anglia] have kindly acknowledged.”

Mr Freeman, the MP for mid-Norfolk was appointed as a minister for the Department for Transport on in July.

He described the role as a “huge honour”, adding that his brief would be to help modernise the department and ”lead on 21stC TransportTech, Innovation, DeCarbonisation + Connectivity for places left behind”.

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“We’re sorry to hear that Mr Freeman missed his connection yesterday,” a Greater Anglia spokesperson said.

“Unfortunately, his Great Northern service from London was late arriving at Cambridge station. We were unable to hold our Cambridge to Norwich service because it would have had a knock-on effect of causing delays to the timetable for the rest of the day on that route.

“We are investigating Mr Freeman’s report of our staff’s actions, as good customer service is one of our highest priorities.”

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