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.'
Train travel doesn't have to be a nightmare. Check out these top railway journeys around the world...
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- Arctic Circle Express
Reaching heights of 3000 feet and going 100 miles the other side of the Arctic circle, this trip links Stockholm and Kiruna, in Norway. Highlights include the longest fjord in the world, Sognefjord, which is 126 miles long and 4000 feet deep. Come in the summer, and you'll experience the meaning of the term, 'land of the midnight sun'. Visit <a href="http://www.greatrail.com/tours/arctic-circle-express.aspx" target="_blank">greatrail.com</a> for more info.</p>
- The Palace on Wheels, India
There's no doubt that this is the most luxurious way to cross India. A steam engine drags the train out of Delhi for a week-long trip to the royal estate at Rajasthan. Along the way there's canoodling with elephants in the pink city, Jaipur, a camel safari in the desert at Jaisalmer and a tour of Agra's extraordinary Taj Mahal. Visit <a href="http://www.palaceonwheels.net/" target="_blank">thepalaceonwheels.net </a>for more.</p>
- The Macchu Pichu train, South America
Beginning in Cuzco (one of South America's most enchanting cities) and winding its way along the path of the Urubamba River, Peru's famous railway line takes in colossal Andean mountains, Inca ruins and llamas galore. And that's before you get to the unbelievable lost city of Macchu Picchu. For more info, visit <a href="http://www.machupicchutrain.com/" target="_blank">machupicchutrain.com </a>for info.</p>
- Trans-Siberian Railway
<a href="http://www.greatrail.com/holidays/the-trans-siberian-express-with-great-rail-journeys.aspx" target="_blank">Great Rail Journeys</a> offers berths on arguably the greatest passenger train on the planet, the Golden Eagle, for an astounding ride covering 11 time zones. This epic journey begins in Warsaw and ends 8,000 miles away in Vladivostock. Along the way there's a chance to go ice fishing in the world's biggest lake, Baikal, take a troika carriage in Suzdal, lunch out in a traditional Mongolian 'yurt' tent and gape at the golden domes of Yaketerinburg.</p>
- Orient Express
<a href="http://www.orient-express.com/" target="_blank">The Orient Express</a> is a byword for luxury travel. Traditionally it served Paris and Istanbul, but that's no longer the case. These days it runs between Strasbourg and Vienna, so you'll have to improvise. Four journeys- Paris-Strasbourg, Strasbourg-Vienna, Vienna-Belgrade and Belgrade-Istanbul- will suffice, taking you from the heartland of Western Europe to the gateway of Asia. Truly a journey worth undertaking, 127 years since its maiden passage.</p>
- Jungfrau Railway
This railway has been in operation since 1893, giving spectacular views of one of Switzerland's most beautiful regions. It climbs from Interlaken to a height of 11332 feet at Jangfraujoch Station. A phenomenal feat of engineering allows the train to enter through the middle of Eiger mountain. From the top you can see as far as the Black Forest in Germany- this is the so-called 'Roof of Europe' after all. Inside the glacier is Ice Palace, an exhibition of ice sculptures. The cost of a return fare is steep - fares are over hundred quid - but well worth it. Visit <a href="http://www.jungfrau.ch/en" target="_blank">jungfrau.ch</a> for more.</p>
- The Blue Train, South Africa
The Blue Train offers a luxury service crossing South Africa. It takes in Victoria Falls, the haunting barren landscape of the Great Karoo and the incredibly seaside city of Cape Town. And along the way you'll be glued to the window hoping to spot elephants, lions and other wonderful animals in their wild habitat. Visit <a href="http://www.bluetrain.co.za/" target="_blank">bluetrain.co/za </a>for more.</p>
- Japan by Bullet Train
If you want a taste of real speed try a ride on Japan's Shinkansens. The latest model of these bullet trains reaches speeds of 186mph. This means you reach Osaka from Tokyo (515 km away) in a mind-boggling two hours and 25 minutes. You can take a Shinkansen all the way across Japan, from Kagoshima in the south-west to Hachinoche in the north-east. Just be sure not to blink. Visit <a href="http://www.seat61.com/Japan.htm" target="_blank">seat61/japan</a> for more.</p>
- The Marrakech Express
Beginning in Tangier (the sleazy port which inspired the likes of Paul Bowles, William H. Burroughs and Jack Kerouac) the train stops at the delightful medieval town of Asilah . Then it heads inland from the modern metropolis of Casablanca, home to the stupendous Hassan II Mosque. The closer to Marrakech one gets, the land becomes pinker and barer, until the foothills of the Atlas Mountains- where the magnificent city itself appears in all its glorious weirdness. Visit <a href="http://www.greatrail.com/tours/marrakech-express-by-train.aspx?TelRef=PPC_GOO_MOR&utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=Morocco%20-%20Marrakech%20Express&utm_term=marrakech%20express%20-e&atlassearch=paid" target="_blank">greatrail.com</a> for more.</p>
- Copper Canyon, Mexico
This engineering triumph – which cost $90 million and took 90 years to complete – crosses the guava-spotted deserts and canyons of northern Mexico, linking the Pacific Coast and Chihuahua City by way of 87 tunnels and 36 bridges. The Copper Canyon itself features two climactic zones, so sub-tropical forests give way to a cool alpine climate with oaks and pines. for Visit <a href="http://www.mexicoscoppercanyon.com/chepe.htm" target="_blank">mexicoscoppercanyon.com</a> for more info.</p>
Don't listen to what anyone else says; from Switzerland to Siberia, by bullet train or steam engine, it's still the best way to travel. </p>
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