Harry Turner's Episodes of Personal History
The 1975 Railway Crisis    | HISTORY Page | Obituary Page |

The Railway Crisis on
Saturday August 21st, 1975


The train from Manchester along the Guide Bridge route pulled up at the signal immediately outside Romiley Station. Just ahead, on the Bredbury track, was the tail end of a long train (which proved to be a special excursion) stretching across the points and on to our track. The diesel engine unit was just about level with the end of the platform and the signal box. The train was stationery though there was some activity going on at the engine end.

After about five minutes' wait, the guard (who had been consulting with the driver) walked back through the train and confirmed that we couldn't get past until the excursion train could be started. It seemed to pointless waiting when the station was a mere walk away, so I opened the door and jumped down on the track.

One of the other passengers stood in the doorway just as I was preparing to slam it shut. I asked him if he was coming and he muttered something about his wife. I offered to help her down, and waited awhile, while he was evidently trying to persuade her to come – eventually, he returned and said I'd better go on.

So I walked along the sleepers and caught up with the guard, who had dismounted ahead of me. There were shouts from the stranded passengers as we went by, the guard complaining about a lady passenger, who had been nagging him because she was going to arrive home late and she had been travelling the route for 12 years and never had anything like this happen to her. "Should reckon herself bloody lucky," he opined and protested that he was just as anxious to get home after a long day as she was.

The hot afternoon sun blazed down on the diesel unit and a weary-looking driver. "Dead, completely bloody dead," he advised the guard. "Well, the St. Pancras train will be following soon and can probably push you out of the way, but what happens to the train, I don't know... Or if this lot'll ever get home."

I left them, walked through the quiet station, looked back at that dead train, coaches sprawling from one lot of rails, right across the Guide Bridge line, and into the platform. Trains could still pass through into Manchester (via Bredbury & Reddish North) but nothing could get past the other way.

It was quiet as I walked down the main road. No one seemed aware of the tragedy for the excursion passengers, the frustration of the people waiting to get off the Guide Bridge train. I seemed to be the only one prepared to get off and walk.

I wonder when British Rail solved their problems! ■

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