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Man left stranded after falling asleep on train

12:00 26 April 2012

Geoff Berry wrote a heated letter to First Great Western explaining what he had been through.

Geoff Berry wrote a heated letter to First Great Western explaining what he had been through.


After falling asleep on a late-night train, a Barnstaple man ended up walking 20-miles through the night to get home.

A MAN had to walk five hours through the night after falling asleep on the train and ending up in the middle of nowhere.

Geoff Berry was due to arrive at Barnstaple around midnight on the train from Exeter, but he dozed off and was startled when he woke up to find himself travelling in the opposite direction.

Mr Berry, from Barnstaple, had visited friends in Reading for the day on April 6 and had been exhausted after a 7am start.

He said: “I woke up around 12.20am, and realising that we were moving and there was no one else on the train, I went and found the guard.

“I said to him I had meant to get off in Barnstaple but had fallen asleep. He told me I would have to go back to Exeter and get a taxi home.

“I was furious. I asked him who exactly was going to pay for this taxi, and after a rather heated debate, he agreed to let me off at Eggesford.”

Stranded around 20 miles from home in the dead of the night, the 52-year-old had no one to call, and started the long walk home, hoping to be able to hitch a lift.

But, cold and angry, he trekked for five hours not seeing another soul and arrived home at around 6am.

“It took me all weekend to recover,” he said. “I was angry that the guard had not checked the train for passengers before starting the journey back to Exeter.

“The guard told me he had announced twice over the tannoy that we had arrived, but I didn’t think that a good enough response. There were only two carriages on the train. It would not have taken much to check them.”

Mr Berry wrote to First Great Western, which runs the Tarka Line service from Exeter to Barnstaple, complaining about his experience.

In a reply, the company said it was ‘genuinely sorry that you feel so let down’ but it would not be offering any compensation.

The letter read: “If the train is due to return to the depot after its last journey, then there is an obligation on our crew to proactively check the train for passengers, before it leaves.

“However, this is a moot point in the circumstances in question, as when our 22:52 train left Barnstaple, it was still operating as a public service (not returning to the depot).

“Ultimately the final onus of responsibility remains on each customer in ensuring they leave the train in time.”

In response, Mr Berry said: “I had not realised it was still a passenger train, I had thought it was just travelling back to the depot.

“Even so, there are only two carriages, and I don’t think it would have taken much for them to check before they set off.”


  • Yes, people do have responsibility for their actions, but sometimes unexpected incidents happen and we have to deal with them. So if your wife-mother-daughter phoned up from Exeter at 1am and said they had to get a taxi back after falling asleep on the train, would you say "You snooze you lose" and turn over? It's always easy to criticise when it's happening to someone else.

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    W Rowe, Barnstaple

    Tuesday, May 1, 2012

  • Well it's always someone else's fault isn't it? He was on the last train from Barnstaple, he was asleep on it. The staff do not go waking people up on that last train until it gets to Exeter, it's final stop. It's after that it goes onto the depot, so he fell asleep and that is the fault of the train operating company?

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    Monday, April 30, 2012

  • Its beyond belief the driver could not check as there was every possibility someone would fall asleep late at night caused by the gentle movement of the train. Still it could have been worse he might have had to pay more...

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    David Glaholm

    Thursday, April 26, 2012

  • But this bloke fell asleep, then demanded someone paid for a taxi! He was not on an empty stock train, it's the return passenger service. It only goes to the depot after that. The guard gave him good advice, it's easier to get a taxi at Exeter than Eggesford. I'd be interested in seeing the recordings of his attitude towards the guard as well. They have to put up with some real choice characters on these late night trains hence the CCTV cameras.

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    Tuesday, May 1, 2012

  • It does sound as if the rail staff were not exactly sympathetic to their passenger - who after all in effect pays their wages. I would have thought it was regulation procedure to ensure all passengers had departed before leaving the last station? What if the sleeping passenger had been a pregnant woman, a very elderly person or some other vulnerable type? Now I am reminded why I prefer to drive...

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    W Rowe, Barnstaple

    Thursday, April 26, 2012

  • Can't believe you lot! How long did it take for you to wriggle out of the cotton wool? You snooze-You lose.Lesson for life.

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    Thursday, April 26, 2012

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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