Rail services the length and breadth of the country have been severely disrupted after reports of “the wrong kind of volcanic ash” covering train tracks.
Services run by Virgin Trains, East Midland Railways, and National Express have all ground to a halt after the discovery of the ash, which had originated from the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull.
As a result of the volcanic eruption, rail customers nationwide have joined those abroad who found themselves stranded in their current destination.
“If it’s a good enough excuse for the airlines, then it’s good enough for us,” said Bernie Southall, 54, a train driver from Stafford, as he sat out in his back garden in a deck chair, lamenting the news. “Look, the thing is that our trains are all finely tuned machines, and they can only work at their optimum level when conditions are perfect.
“I mean, if it had been Norwegian volcanic ash, or even volcanic ash from Russia, then it wouldn’t have been a problem. But this Icelandic stuff can be pretty tricky.
“Instead, we’ll have to just grin and bear it, and get on with the gruelling business of sitting outside and enjoying the warm Spring sunshine while everyone else is trying to get to places they need to be. Oh well. Fancy a beer?”
Melanie Jones, 29, from Norfolk, has been stranded just outside Leamington Spa since Saturday night, and added her voice to the chorus of disapproving voices. “Listen, we just about bought it when they told us about the ‘wrong kind of leaves’ and then the ‘wrong kind of snow’ on the tracks – but this is just a p*ss-take, isn’t it?
“What’s next? Are they going to stay at home whenever it’s a bit rainy, or there’s something good on the telly? I think we should be told.”
Meanwhile, union leaders have denied that their members are trying to find ways to cause more natural events in an attempt to gte more days off work.
“Rumours that we’ve sent three of our members to begin an evening class in vulcanology are only half-true,” said Phil Hedges from train drivers union ASLEF. “Yes, we do have some guys taking the course, but there’s no sinister motive – they’ve always been interested in the subject.
“This has absolutely nothing to do with our drivers looking for more reasons to avoid doing any sort of work. What’s more, if you suggest that again, we’ll strike.”