Ex-soldier’s fury at railway ticket row

Ex-soldier Robert 'Eddie' Craven was stranded in Banbury following train service disruptions. NNL-141229-101750009
Ex-soldier Robert 'Eddie' Craven was stranded in Banbury following train service disruptions. NNL-141229-101750009

An ex-soldier had to sleep under a bridge for two days after he was left stranded in Banbury following disruptions to Network Rail train services.

Eddie Craven had purchased an off-peak ticket from Banbury to Inverness on Sunday after walking the first leg of his journey all the way from Bath in Somerset.

The £157 fare used up all the money he had but meant he could spent time with his mother Dorothy, who had been unwell recently.

But when he came to board a train service leaving Banbury at about 3pm on Sunday, he found that train disruptions had affected his journey.

And after a member of staff at the station refused to speak to him about alternative travel arrangements, he was left isolated in the town with no money. Mr Craven, who served as a private in Bosnia and Northern Ireland for five years, said: “I’m absolutely fuming. I spent everything I had on the ticket to see my mum over the festive period as I don’t manage to see her very often.

“But when I came back to the station and a staff member wanted to check if she had printed the right ticket, I knew something wasn’t right.

“I didn’t swear or lose my temper with her but was obviously getting very frustrated and started to panic because the train connections were all over the place.

“The lady I was speaking to then pulled the shutter down at the ticket office and refused to speak to me.

“My mum was nearly in tears. I was pulling my hair out as I just wanted to get up there to see her, I just wanted a refund because at least I would be able to find another way to reach her.”

With nowhere else to go, the 40-year-old had no option but to sleep under one of the town’s canal bridges in freezing temperatures on Sunday and Monday night as he tried to find an alternative way to Inverness.

Despite the setback, Mr Craven’s mother had managed to transfer £100 into his bank account on Monday for him to purchase a National Express bus ticket.

Mr Craven added: “I woke up on Monday with a terrible headache because it had been so cold overnight.

“It wasn’t ideal sleeping under a bridge, but I had no other option.”

“I have had some really bad problems with my chest in the past and it has been playing up recently with the cold weather.”

Alan Riley, head of customer relations at Chiltern Railways, who operate Banbury Railway Station, said: “We are sorry that Mr Craven experienced issues travelling on Sunday. We will be investigating his case and will provide him with a refund.”