Passengers’ anger after four hour broken-down train drama
A RAIL operator has stood by its decision to keep furious passengers on board a broken-down train for nearly four hours, prompting some to force open the doors.
But First Capital Connect (FCC) has said travellers will be able to get a full refund on their tickets after 374 people were stranded just outside Foxton on its service to Cambridge from King’s Cross on Friday.
A group of 15 people eventually broke open the doors of the train after they were left frustrated at the lack of action from train officials. British Transport Police were called to the station but did not apprehend anyone.
The remaining passengers waited on board for several hours before they were collected and taken to Royston station, where replacement bus services were provided.
FCC said problems with overhead power cables halted the train shortly before 5pm. Graham Smith, 63, from Cambridge, said he was among those held on the broken-down train. He said: “It was a complete shambles. The train had broken down at 4.55pm while it was still daylight.
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“We were told from the outset that the train could not be moved, so we would probably have to evacuate at some point. Therefore, why did they wait four hours before we were transferred to another train?” He said this was done “in total darkness” as by then the train lights had failed and the toilets were unusable.
Mr Smith said: “We were taken to Royston and then transferred to Cambridge by buses. I, my wife and a neighbour with two small children eventually arrived back home in Cambridge at 9.30pm.”
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He added: “This was the first time I had travelled on a train in more than 15 years. Never again.”
But Roger Perkins, from FCC, insisted the operator had acted appropriately, adding: “We acted and will always act in the best interests of safety of the passengers. In this incident the safest place was on the train.”
He said: “We apologise sincerely to our customers for what happened. We followed all our usual procedures to get people off the train safely and as quickly as possible.”
He rebuffed suggestion’s that the train driver then locked the doors. Mr Perkins said passengers were given updates every 15 minutes.
People were transferred to trains brought alongside the broken down one and the last set came off at 7.45pm.
Hertfordshire police asked motorists to avoid the area around Royston train station due to a build-up of traffic.
And there were reports of pushing and shoving in attempts to get on the replacement bus services.
But one News reader Di Beddow praised the camaraderie onboard. She said: “Britons make the best of difficult situations. The number of people I heard saying, ‘Well at least we are all safe.’
“I salute you lovely people and hope you had a great week-end after all your upset.”
FCC’s Delay Repay scheme means that those delayed for more than 60 minutes can obtain a full fare refund.
Visit www.firstcapitalconnect.co.uk or call 0845 0264700 to find out more.