Man left stranded after falling asleep on train
12:00 26 April 2012
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.”