Chaos as new train breaks down

SEAFORD commuters and school children were forced to find their own alternative transport when a new high-tech train broke down.

People were stranded and timetables thrown into chaos when the train ground to a halt at Bishopstone Station on Monday morning.

Passengers had been on it for just a few minutes when it left Seaford soon after 7.30am.

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The train crew announced there was a problem with its brakes and people waited more than an hour for buses to be laid on. But none were available and local taxis were in use transporting people waiting at Seaford Station.

Peter White, Seaford Residents' Association transport spokesman, was on the train. He said: 'It just stopped and that was it. The crew were excellent and kept us informed about what was happening. We were told it couldn't move because there were no brakes.'

But passengers were then informed they would not be collected for their onward journey. Mr White said: 'Because the track is single line another train couldn't get to us so we were stranded. They had used all the taxis at Seaford to get people to Brighton and we were told our best bet was to get the 712 bus.'

Already late for work, Mr White was forced to call his wife, who had to leave her job and pick him up. She drove him back to Seaford where he collected his own car.

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It was as they travelled towards Seaford they saw a line of school children who had left the train making their way along the grass verge of the A259 back home towards Seaford. He feared for their safety on the busy road. 'There were an awful lot of kids straggling along the grass verge. It gave me the heebie jeebies,' said Mr White.

The train remained stuck at Bishopstone for three hours before being taken to Brighton for repairs.

Mr White finally arrived at work in Brighton nearly two hours late and then had to pay 10 to park all day at Brighton station car park. He said he would be billing them the cost. 'The crew did their best for us but I am pretty fed up with South Central. It's not a lot of fun when you are supposed to be at work at 8.20am and you are still stuck in Bishopstone at 8.45am.'

A South Central Spokesman apologised. He said: 'We are terribly sorry. The trains have been running for the last month and this is a very rare occurrence. We hope people were not inconvenienced too much.'

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South Central bosses were recently embarrassed when one of its new Electrostar trains broke down at Seaford on its first day.

The rail company has ordered 182 trains, at a cost of 856 million, to replace all the old slam-door rolling stock.