Taxi error leaves driver unable to catch own train
By Mid Devon Gazette | Tuesday, February 19, 2013, 08:00
NEVER mind leaves on the line, the wrong sort of snow or other bemusing excuses from operators for late-running train services, how can a taxi be responsible for cancelling a train?
A Tiverton commuter found out the answer after contacting First Great Western Train to complain about disruption to his journey over Christmas.
The company told Paul Moore, who works in insurance, that the train he and other passengers were waiting for was cancelled because someone forgot to book a taxi to transport the crew to the right station.
Mr Moore, who lives in Tiverton and travels from the parkway station in Sampford Peverell to work in Bristol every day, was so surprised by the response from the train company he decided to share it.
Mr Moore explained: "On December 27, my train from Taunton to Bristol Temple Meads train was cancelled. I usually catch it from Tiverton Parkway, but the station was closed due to the flooding."
Mr Moore put in a claim for compensation, but was told that as a season ticket holder he was not entitled to anything for disruption to individual services.
However, he said when he read an email from First Great Western's customer relations team outlining the reason for the cancellation "it made me laugh out loud."
The email read: "I understand that my colleague's reply was a little vague so will try to provide a little more detail about why your service was cancelled on December 27."
"On this date we were using taxis to transport train crews to Taunton but unfortunately the taxi designated for the crew of the 07.36 service arrived late, resulting in their arrival at Taunton being too late to take the service forward.
"The reason for the late arrival of the taxi was looked into and there appears to have been an issue with the original booking not being received. I would like to assure you that those responsible will take the necessary steps to ensure this sort of thing does not happen again and I do apologise for problems the cancellation of this service caused you."
First Great Western explained that it did not compensate season ticket holders for individual delays like daily and weekly ticket holders, but those customers receive a discount on renewing their ticket if the company have failed to hit targets for reliability and punctuality.
Mr Moore paid £4,120 for his season ticket and said the amount of compensation would have been £15.96 but he said it was the reason for the delay which had surprised him.
He said in his three years as a commuter on the service, he was used to unusual delays. "I remember one time there was a cow on the line just outside Taunton. We were stopped for around 10 minutes as a stand-off ensued while a member of staff tried to shoo the cow, which didn't want to move," he said.
A First Great Western spokesman said: "Flooding and challenges with Network Rail's infrastructure during December affected many of our train services, both for passengers and also staff travelling to and from work.
"Because of this some of our trains didn't start or end the day at their normal depot, particularly those around Tiverton. This meant we needed some drivers to start work away from their home depot, sometimes at very short notice. In these cases our priority has to be minimising disruption to customers, and sometimes using a taxi is the quickest, most efficient way of getting our crew to the train. We apologise for the cancellation of this service and the inconvenience caused."