Anyone who regularly travels by train has to deal with delays.
It’s a sad and seemingly unavoidable fact of life, especially for anyone using Southeastern which reportedly has the second worst performance on delays.
Most frustrating hold-ups are down to banal reasons such as signal problems and broken-down trains.
Sometimes, though, the excuses are more memorable. Here are 10 of the most bizarre explanations given for passengers suffering disruption* on the railways across south-east London and north Kent.
Sorry for the inconvenience, a carriage has been used as a convenience
A train was taken out of service when a passenger reported the "unbearable stench" of urine and “other toilet liquid” running through his carriage.
When we say keep hold of your belongings, this isn’t what we mean
Passengers faced more than just delays after reports of a man touching himself on a train. British Transport Police officers were called to Kidbrooke station and arrested a man in connection with an alleged offence of outraging public decency.
Today’s trains are delayed because of YOU
Speaking of passengers taking matters into their own hands, there was a revolt when trains got stuck due to signalling problems at London Bridge. Trapped commuters were blamed for causing further delays after they forced open doors and walked along the tracks.
This 2013 mutiny isn’t an isolated case as there was similar chaos when passengers jumped off a halted train near Bexleyheath to escape the searing heat in the middle of summer 2011.
Southeastern’s youngest passenger disrupts service
One delay which prompted more congratulations than complaints occurred when a baby girl was born on a rush-hour train packed full of commuters travelling from London Victoria to Maidstone East. Fortunately a midwife, nurse and police officer, who were all off-duty, were on hand to help out.
Spooks brought trains to a halt
A prop used in TV spy drama Spooks disrupted train services after sparking a security alert. A passer-by called emergency services after spotting what was described as an oil drum with wires sticking out in a yard close to Deptford train station.
We fit – except when we don’t
Commuters failed to see the funny side when a Halfords lorry bearing the slogan ‘we fit’ got stuck under a Beckenham bridge. “Clearly we didn’t fit,” said the company when apologising to road and train travellers for the disruption caused.
Photo: Ian Price
Wrong type of weather 1
Snow and ice are the frequent bane of commuters’ lives during winter. But in early 2014 it was relentless wet weather that was the problem, causing two landslides in just over a week. The first was at Barnehurst station, followed by another in Longfield eight days later.
Wrong type of weather 2
Long-time commuters will know crazy situations and dodgy excuses are not new phenomena. There are a couple of gems from 2003 when trains ran late due to the sun getting in drivers' eyes and also when trains were delayed due to ‘poor rail conditions’ caused by hot weather.
Sorry I’m late boss, there was a man up a tree
Normally if you told your boss you were late for work due to a bloke hiding up a tree you’d be accused of lying, but on one occasion last year you would have been telling the truth. Burglar Carlton Andre fled from police along railway lines and climbed up a tree in Charlton, staying there for 17 hours and causing widespread train disruption put at a cost of nearly £500,000.
The train will be formed of eight coaches – no, wait, it’s two lots of four
Commuters were stuck at Sydenham Hill for more than an hour when a train carrying 500 passengers broke in two. The train was leaving the station when the four front carriages became uncoupled from the rear half of the train. Passengers were stranded in the front half of the train after it moved off into a tunnel.
What are the strangest reasons you’ve been given for train services being delayed or cancelled? What are the oddest or funniest announcements you’ve heard at stations or onboard trains? Add your comments below or contact us
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* Before anyone moans, we're aware the train operating companies in question, mainly Southeastern, didn't actually cause most of these problems. They were mostly responsible for sorting out the chaos afterwards and passing on useful information to customers as they do so well.