Train passengers' ‘insane’ 11-hour journey with 50 children left at station

Avanti West Coast ordered taxis for hundreds of passengers on Monday night after a train from London to the Scottish capital terminated at Preston.

Train passengers’ ‘insane’ 11-hour journey with 50 children left at station PA Media

A rail passenger has described his “insane” 11-hour journey to Edinburgh which ended at 3.30am after a “ridiculous” taxi ride.

Stand-up comedian James Nokise said he was among “hundreds” of passengers ordered off an Avanti West Coast train at Preston station in Lancashire on Monday night.

The train company arranged for taxis to take the travellers to their destinations.

Staff from Greenfaulds High School, Glasgow, were forced to order their own coach to take 50 pupils home after a trip to London as they were too young to travel in taxis without an adult.

Nokise was driven to the Scottish capital with three other people in a black cab.

In a series of posts viewed more than 2.6 million times on social media platform X – formerly known as Twitter – he wrote: “At 4.40pm I jumped on a train from London to Edinburgh.

“It was comfy, it was quiet. In hindsight, too good to last.”

He explained that at 7.26pm he was among the passengers who received an email stating that the train was cancelled, which was “a surprise” as it was still moving.

An announcement was then made that the service was terminating at Preston but another train to Glasgow was being held to take those onboard to Scotland.

But the Glasgow-bound train was full so left Preston as Nokise and his fellow passengers arrived.

They were told to wait for the next train, which ended up being cancelled.

Nokise wrote: “It turned out there were no more trains north after that and, excitingly, no forthcoming information.

“Some people stood staring at the screens.

“Some people queued to ask the one ticket booth worker the same question everyone else was.

“No-one knew anything.

“Around 9.20pm news came down: alternative transport had been arranged.

“Bus? An extra train? Horses? No. Taxis. For hundreds of people. To a city three-and-a-half hours away.”

At 10.30pm he was in the final group of travellers to get in a cab, describing the situation as “ridiculous”.

The comic wrote that shortly after midnight “our cabbie decided to change lanes without indicating and almost crashed into a mini-van overtaking him”.

Nokise expressed sympathy with the cabbie – who stopped to buy two cans of energy drink – as “it is late, it’s a dark highway and he’s driving a city black cab not meant for this road”.

He added: “Perhaps, just possibly, throwing money at cab drivers and getting them to drive several hours in the middle of the night might not be the best contingency plan for train companies to have.”

The A72 is “a real motion-sickness nightmare of a road” which is “narrow, dark, full of turns and occasionally just dips,” he wrote.

During the taxi journey, Nokise received an email from Avanti West Coast informing him he would receive £70 compensation, which was how much his ticket cost.

After being dropped off at Edinburgh Waverley station at around 3am, he had to take another taxi to his accommodation.

In his final post on the trip, he wrote at 3.30am: “Thanks for being on this journey with me Twitter.

“A truly insane odyssey. Five hours late, 11 hours after I jumped on the train.

“I’m going to have a shower and eat something.

“Let’s never do this again.”

An X account for Greenfaulds High School posted images of the stranded children eating chips while sitting on the concourse floor at Preston station.

Five adults were accompanying the pupils, who were aged around 12.

In a messages to Avanti West Coast, the school wrote: “We have been able to resource, on our own, a coach to take us home.

“If we had not, we would have 50 young children abandoned on the streets of Preston once the station closes.

“Apologies from your wonderful staff here are kind but not enough. Very poor.”

After arriving at Preston at 6.30pm, they finally made it to Greenfaulds station at around 2.30am.

An Avanti West Coast spokesman 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 train crew 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.”

For delays in excess of two hours, Avanti West Coast offers compensation worth 100% of the value of the ticket used.

Passengers can also apply to be reimbursed for additional costs.

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