Top 10 reasons why your Southern, First Capital Connect, or South West Train is late

Four hundred people queued at East Croydon station after a mudslide caused delays in 2011

Four hundred people queued at East Croydon station after a mudslide caused delays in 2011

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As the new rail fares hit us in the pocket this month, south London and Surrey's train companies have been strongly reminding us all that they are investing in the future with glitzy new trains and cutting-edge technology. 

Tomorrow sees First Capital Connect launch a new "state-of-the-art" Thameslink train that will become part of the Wimbledon loop network in three years. 

The company is inviting you, the passenger, to travel to the ExCel centre in east London in the middle of a Wednesday to have a look - so chances are you might not get a chance.

And Southern, FCC's more adult cousin, has joined the 21st century with a new smartphone app "designed by passengers, for passengers" which provides real-time information about service disruptions.

Neither announcement mentioned how they improve the trains being late, or cancelled, which is the complaint we hear from our readers each day.

So we've had a look through the archives and picked out the more memorable excuses for why your train is late.

TOP 10 REASONS WHY YOUR TRAIN IS LATE

1. "Heavy icing"

Surrey Comet: More than 100 rail passengers have been stranded after their train became stuck in snow (stock image)

No this is not part of a Nigella cupcake recipe: it's train lingo for "it's cold" when the Thameslink service was stalled for more than two hours in 2010.


2. Mudslide

Four hundred people queued all the way around a Croydon post office in August 2011 to wait for the train after heavy rain caused quite a mess on the tracks and ruining Southern's Croydon to Brighton service for most of the day. 

Surrey Comet: Pictures from the scene of a mudslide on a rail line in Croydon.


3. "We had a dog on the lines"

A stray dog in Surrey, apparently not fussed about a train hurtling towards him, caused a delay of 18 minutes while was picked up in Claygate and taken away by the station manager. 

Surrey Comet: A guide dog in York Minster.

(Not the actual dog - just a picture of a dog)


4. "The driver’s seat was wet and unusable"

A rather miffed train driver announced to passengers in February 2013 that he would not be taking them to Victoria because someone had mistaken the driver's cabin for a toilet

Surrey Comet: High street shops to leave toilet doors open


5. German lorry too tall

The Germans may be the economic powerhouse of Europe and better at football than us, but their Sat Navs were clearly rubbish in 2007. South West Trains to Kingston from Wimbledon were delayed by an hour after a German lorry crashed into a railway bridge.

Surrey Comet: Emergency services survey the damage to the lorry Deadlinepix KT12844


6. Passenger mutiny

In February 2010, 20 passengers refused to budge from their seats after being told a First Capital Connect Train was being taken out of service.

Incredibly it worked, as a spokesman explained: "Twenty passengers would not get off the train and eventually, because of that, the train did then run.”

Surrey Comet: Pupils protest against unviersity fees

(Stock pic of a slightly larger protest about university tuition fees)


7. "We have had a horrible week"

Nothing wrong with a bit of honesty, as door problems and vandalism added to the usual problems for Thameslink way back in December 2003.

Surrey Comet: Depression can affect one in five people. Picture posed by model

(Stock pic of someone probably having a horrible week(


8. “He collided with the barrier fewer than 30 seconds before a train was due to pass through."

Some of us have such busy lives that we risk death or disfigurement because we can't wait for a train to pass through a level crossing. In August 2010 a the driver survived but smashed through the level crossing at West Barnes Lane, between the South West Trains route between Raynes Park and New Malden.

Surrey Comet: CROY: Croydon man given suspended sentence for smashing through train barrier


9. Train reshuffle

Do you remember the great train reshuffle of 2004? No I don't either, but it caused massive disruption as part of an "EU-wide standardisation of timetables".

Surrey Comet:

Clapham Junction: In how many European languages can you say "cancelled"?


10. Doors are too small

Things must have been bad 10 years ago because not only were our timetables out of sync with Luxembourg, but the trains were late in 2004 partly because we couldn't squeeze in quickly enough! 

Surrey Comet: South West Trains promises improved communication after snow chaos


What's the most unusual reason the train companies have given you for your service being delayed or cancelled? Leave a comment below or email digitalmedia@london.newsquest.co.uk.

We are also looking for YOUR Top 10 ideas - just tell us what you would like to know and we will find the answers in easy-to-chew list-based format.

Comments (8)

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1:11pm Tue 28 Jan 14

kingstonpaul says...

The real bugbear among commuters is when we're given several sets of different excuses by different railway staff.
I'm sure there's a 'What Excuse Haven't We Used Yet' department at SWT HQ.
The real bugbear among commuters is when we're given several sets of different excuses by different railway staff. I'm sure there's a 'What Excuse Haven't We Used Yet' department at SWT HQ. kingstonpaul
  • Score: 2

1:32pm Tue 28 Jan 14

Nick Hitchens says...

Leaves on the tracks is always a classic
Leaves on the tracks is always a classic Nick Hitchens
  • Score: -1

3:41pm Tue 28 Jan 14

EwellMan says...

The best one is.....

Its a track issue and managed by Network Rail, you ring up network Rail and they say, there was nothing wrong with the track or signals and say must of been train.
Its what privatisation has done to the services, allowed these companies to rake in massive profit whilst not taking responsibility for the service. All whilst they get away with excuses and passing off responsibility the more you will get annoyed and walk away without pushing for a refund. Quite Clever really!
The best one is..... Its a track issue and managed by Network Rail, you ring up network Rail and they say, there was nothing wrong with the track or signals and say must of been train. Its what privatisation has done to the services, allowed these companies to rake in massive profit whilst not taking responsibility for the service. All whilst they get away with excuses and passing off responsibility the more you will get annoyed and walk away without pushing for a refund. Quite Clever really! EwellMan
  • Score: 1

11:32am Wed 29 Jan 14

BB1971 says...

Southerns favorite due to staff shortages aka The driver couldn't be arsed to get out of bed is the one that gets me the most

Mind hearing several different excuses for the same train is also extremely annoying, sure the staff have a hat they draw these excuses from
Southerns favorite due to staff shortages aka The driver couldn't be arsed to get out of bed is the one that gets me the most Mind hearing several different excuses for the same train is also extremely annoying, sure the staff have a hat they draw these excuses from BB1971
  • Score: -1

6:00pm Fri 31 Jan 14

Daniel Dunican says...

BB1971 wrote:
Southerns favorite due to staff shortages aka The driver couldn't be arsed to get out of bed is the one that gets me the most

Mind hearing several different excuses for the same train is also extremely annoying, sure the staff have a hat they draw these excuses from
southern have over 50 drivers off track at the moment due to mostly sickness but you can't sack someone because they are ill, you are then going to say they should hire more. well it takes over a year to train to be a train driver plus the recruitment time taking at least 3 months. time they have done that quite a few of the drivers would then be back on track.
[quote][p][bold]BB1971[/bold] wrote: Southerns favorite due to staff shortages aka The driver couldn't be arsed to get out of bed is the one that gets me the most Mind hearing several different excuses for the same train is also extremely annoying, sure the staff have a hat they draw these excuses from[/p][/quote]southern have over 50 drivers off track at the moment due to mostly sickness but you can't sack someone because they are ill, you are then going to say they should hire more. well it takes over a year to train to be a train driver plus the recruitment time taking at least 3 months. time they have done that quite a few of the drivers would then be back on track. Daniel Dunican
  • Score: 0

12:38pm Sat 1 Feb 14

Dennis R says...

I had always felt each railway has an Excuse Command Centre. On the wall in each centre is a large version of a board game spinner. At the very top is the title WRONG KIND OF.

The pointer is spun and where it lands is the excuse of the day:
LEAVES, WATER, HEAT, SNOW, ICE, DEW, SUNLIGHT (and just how many types of sunlight are there?), etc.

It wasn't a delayed train, per se, but brand new rolling stock sitting dormant on a siding somewhere when it was realised the purchasing contract was flawed resulting in WRONG KIND OF CURRENT required by the motors.

Conspicuously missing is MANAGEMENT.
I had always felt each railway has an Excuse Command Centre. On the wall in each centre is a large version of a board game spinner. At the very top is the title WRONG KIND OF. The pointer is spun and where it lands is the excuse of the day: LEAVES, WATER, HEAT, SNOW, ICE, DEW, SUNLIGHT (and just how many types of sunlight are there?), etc. It wasn't a delayed train, per se, but brand new rolling stock sitting dormant on a siding somewhere when it was realised the purchasing contract was flawed resulting in WRONG KIND OF CURRENT required by the motors. Conspicuously missing is MANAGEMENT. Dennis R
  • Score: 0

12:50pm Sat 1 Feb 14

Dennis R says...

KINGSTONPAUL: I just discovered you and I think alike.

You ought to be very concerned about that! ;-)
KINGSTONPAUL: I just discovered you and I think alike. You ought to be very concerned about that! ;-) Dennis R
  • Score: 0

1:00pm Sat 1 Feb 14

Dennis R says...

And finally - I hope - there's this award deserving link which many readers and train victims may never before have seen:

http://ukrailwayfaq.
wikispaces.com/A+to+
Z+of+Excuses
And finally - I hope - there's this award deserving link which many readers and train victims may never before have seen: http://ukrailwayfaq. wikispaces.com/A+to+ Z+of+Excuses Dennis R
  • Score: 0

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