Travel: Rail passenger’s anger at replacement transport gaffe
07:45 01 September 2014
Under-fire rail firm Abellio Greater Anglia faced more criticism last night from a passenger left to wait for a replacement bus that never arrived.
Patrick Roberts called his latest rail experience trumped a series of delays and cancellations to his regular commute between home in Needham Market and London.
The self-employed sales consultant was among passengers on Saturday’s 11.02pm train from Liverpool Street expecting to meet a replacement bus at Manningtree station due to planned engineering works.
With no bus at the station, passengers phoned ahead to Ipswich – from where most had arranged onward transport – and were told the bus would be there to pick them up. But after an hour’s wait it became clear that a bus would not be coming.
The company apologised and said it had instead sent a fleet of taxis to pick up the stranded customers – a gesture Mr Roberts was oblivious to, having already decided to book his own taxi home at an extra cost of £25.
Mr Roberts, who eventually arrived home at 2.25am, said: “I’ve had so many bad experiences but the latest one took the biscuit.
“I was in London to attend a meeting, which I was late for because the morning train from Needham Market was cancelled at the last minute. The train I did catch was then delayed because of a death on the line at Romford, which I appreciate is no one’s fault.
“As indicated on the website and on station boards, we got off at Manningtree for a bus to take us to Ipswich because of engineering work.
“What is particularly frustrating is that there were no staff at Manningtree. I understand if there has to be maintenance work, but plans should have been put in place.”
An Abellio Greater Anglia spokesperson said: “Due to engineering work, passengers travelling from London late last night [Saturday] were offered alternative road transport from Manningtree. A fleet of taxis was arranged to convey passengers to their destinations.
“We apologise to Mr Roberts for the inconvenience he suffered as a result and would ask that he, and any other passengers who encountered any issues, to contact our customer relations team who will be happy to help.”
On Friday, Network Rail’s regional boss Andy Boyle pledged to “take every step” to avoid a repeat of the long delays and cancellations which hit rail commuters earlier in the week, as he confirmed planned engineering work in Ipswich would go ahead this weekend.
Bosses had spent days weighing up whether or not to proceed with Sunday’s proposed railway closure following major hold-ups on Tuesday morning, when the line re-opened seven-and-half hours late after engineers struggled to connect new signals to existing signalling equipment in the station area.