More than 50 furious commuters waited an hour for their train to depart - because the guard had to have his dinner.

According to the Daily Telegraph, passengers waited for nearly 60 minutes to catch the 22.17 service from Ashford International in Kent to Maidstone East station and were told by a member of staff for Southeastern that although the driver was on board the train, it couldn't leave until the guard had finished eating his sandwich on his 'mandatory break'.

'It can't leave until he finishes his one-hour break. He's eating a chicken salad sandwich and a bag of crisps,' they were told.

The train finally left at 23.10 with commuters left seething at the service from Southeastern, which was recently voted the worst train company in the UK in a poll by consumer magazine Which?

Passenger Colin Bird, 43, from Maidstone, said: 'Everyone just stood around with their mouths open. It was perhaps the most ridiculous excuse anyone had ever heard for a train running late.'

Another commuter Claire Bennett, 40, who pays £4,800 for an annual Southeastern train ticket said: 'I've heard all types of excuses from Southeastern, but this was a first. None of the passengers had eaten their dinner either - I was seething.'

A Southeastern spokesman said: 'Staff are required to take mandatory breaks.

'We understand the frustration when services are delayed and we're sorry the journey took longer than usual.'

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