‘Let’s never do this again’: How ‘insane’ 11 hour train journey from hell unfolded

Comedian James Nokise was not expecting the mayhem that unfolded when he set off on his travels

Lydia Patrick
Thursday 28 September 2023 12:32 BST
Avanti West Coast refunded his ticket (Luciana Guerra/PA)
Avanti West Coast refunded his ticket (Luciana Guerra/PA) (PA Archive)

A comedian stuck on an 11-hour journey “from hell” shared the ordeal from London to Edinburgh in a blow by blow account on social media.

Hundreds of travellers were left stranded when the Avanti West Coast train descended into chaos on Monday evening but standup James Nokise captivated X users as he tweeted while the trip went from bad to worse.

His initial tweet has now been viewed a staggering 21.9 million times.

Mr Nokise arrived in good time for his 4.40pm Avanti West Coast on Monday 25 September, and at first all seemed well. But three hours after the train set off he received an email saying it was actually cancelled.

Ten minutes later, passengers exited the train at Preston train station where they were told to wait for the next train, which never arrived as all trains north were stopped.

Avanti West Coast arranged for the passengers to be sent to their destinations in taxis, some were headed to Glasgow, Dundee and Carlisle.

At 10.30pm, Mr Nokise was among the last passengers to be picked up, and got into a cab with three strangers all travelling alone.

But more confusion unfolded on Mr Nokise’s next leg, when the driver explained there were two stations in Edinburgh, Haymarket and Waverly and he was only paid to drive to one station - Edinburgh Waverly.

After a plea from one passenger that the driver was receiving a flat rate - the driver still insisted he was only going to Waverly station.

Mr Nokise continued tweeting in an attempt to stay awake, after “going insane somewhere after Stafford” they had reached the Lake District, and two hours and 24 minutes still to go.

At 12.05am, the group were abruptly awoken - after a near collision with an overtaking mini-van.

At 12.37am the team finally crossed the border into Scotland and hada quick pit stop - the cabbie grabbed two Red Bulls in the absence of a coffee machine.

After some further confusion- the vehicle veered off the M74 too soon before rejoining - there was another hour to go until Edinburgh.

The team then faced the ‘real motion sickness nightmare of a road’ when they hit a random traffic light in the middle of the road.

The driver however had taken a wrong turn and was not on the A70, and were on the A72 to get back on track on the A73, the exhausted passenger said.

Next, they hit a road closure and the driver gave up on his flawed GPS.

Five hours late, and eleven hours after alighting the train the comedian made it to Edinburgh, but not the station, and jumped out at a junction.

Two of the men walked home as they lived close by, another, a Chilean tourist, got a black cab and the comedian completed his ‘truly insane odyssey’ with another cab.

He said, on finally reaching his actual destination: “A truly insane odyssey. 5hrs late, 11hrs after I jumped on the train. I’m gonna have a shower and eat something. “

Concluding his explanation of events, Mr Nokise said he was refunded by Avanti West Coast for his £70 ticket.

An Avanti West Coast spokesperson said: “We apologise to our customers who were caught up in last night’s disruption.

“The closure of the West Coast Main Line for over three hours due to a track defect had a significant impact on our services, with trains and traincrew unable to work our planned timetable resulting in cancellations of services north of Preston.

“Whilst alternative transport and overnight accommodation was sourced for most of those impacted we fully understand the frustrations of those customers whose journeys were affected, and we are extremely sorry for this.

“Anyone who was affected by last night’s disruption will be entitled to compensation and are urged to get in contact through our normal channels to process their claim.”

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