Rail compensation `derisory'

COMPENSATION offered to rail passengers on a held-up train that became so hot they staged a mutiny have been dismissed as "derisory".Packed commuters returning to East Anglia on a First Great Eastern train out of Liverpool Street made their desperate bid for fresh air after a person suffered a suspected heart attack.

COMPENSATION offered to rail passengers on a held-up train that became so hot they staged a mutiny have been dismissed as "derisory".

Packed commuters returning to East Anglia on a First Great Eastern train out of Liverpool Street made their desperate bid for fresh air after a person suffered a suspected heart attack.

Someone pulled the emergency cord as the train approached Forest Gate station in London on Wednesday.

The train came to a sudden halt, but not before it had reached the part of the platform safe enough for the doors to open.


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Sweltering passengers waited for medical attention to arrive for the casualty, but as time dragged on their frustration reached boiling point.

They forced open the train's doors and sought shade on the platform.

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A First Great Eastern spokeswoman called the behaviour "unacceptable" saying it was not safe.

She said the power on the line had to be shut down temporarily in case anybody went on to the rails.

This just added to the evening's chaos on the region's trains after a power failure caused by heat-sagged overhead power cables in the Ilford area.

Harwich councillor Gary Calver took the 16.45 train from Liverpool Street and finally made it to his car, parked at Manningtree, more than four hours later after being stuck behind the affected train.

He said: "To be fair, the driver was brilliant. He did all he could to tell us what was going on and opened the doors for as long as he could when we had to wait for ages at stations.

"Most people seemed to be philosophical about it – there's not much the operators could have done."

But David Bigg, chairman of the Braintree and Witham rail users group, said last night: "It was a horror story for people. If those trains had been transporting cattle, you'd have the animal rights people shouting – it would have been against the law it was so hot.

"There are not enough coaches laid on – they should always be 12-car trains.

"Also, both Anglia and First should co-operate at times like that. Anglia should have been able to stop at First's stations and pick up extra passengers.

"They should also have handed out water to people. And the compensation First have offered is derisory – just £5. It should be four times that amount for what they've suffered."

A spokeswoman for First Great Eastern confirmed £5 was the fixed figure for delays and said they would be handing out water to people at Liverpool Street last night – as a gesture to those who had experienced problems on Wednesday.

She added the company would be introducing new air-conditioned trains on some services next week.

Jonathan Denby, corporate affairs director for Anglia Railways, said: "We'd like to apologise to passengers for what happened, but a lot of it was out of our hands.

"We and First do work hand-in-glove when we have those situations, for example by lifting ticket restrictions between each other.

"But if we had stopped to call in at extra stations, we would have just caused more delays."

"Our compensation for delays depends on a number of things, but £5 would be the minimum on the Wednesday night journeys," he added.

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