“The queue time at Gatwick Airport to board a bus is currently 2 hours and it is strongly advised to not travel towards Brighton today,” National Rail wrote in a tweet on Sunday.
It wasn’t a Radio 4 Tweet of the Day, the birdsongs of Britain’s real-life twitterers at one minute to six every morning; no, it was more the hum of ludicrous planning by Britain’s railway network on the way to a seaside city where the hottest day of the year should have been met with the largest influx of tourists.
It was a miserable blow to Brighton’s amusements and leisure sector – don’t travel to Brighton is probably not the best promo slogan.
As it was, the bank holiday journey to the south coast was described as “appalling”, “shambles”, “chaos” as the trains halted at Gatwick and bus services scheduled to take families down to the sea- side city just didn’t materialise in the necessary numbers.
Meanwhile, there were references even more colourful in Blackpool where overdue engineering work, tardy staff training and the introduction of new trains on a suspect concrete base has been draining the summer fizz out of the north west’s amusements capital.
“Gut-wrenching bowl of turd”; “you couldn’t make this shit up”; “you clowns”; “engineering works? nothing works”.
Welcome to British contempt for the British transport system.
All this mayhem might have been accepted if only it was a one-off and it had been planned for a less decisive weekend for Britain’s seaside economy. But it isn’t and it wasn’t.
For Brighton, where the city sizzled on a bank holiday weekend with the world renowned Brighton Festival at its height, visitors were left stranded at Gatwick waiting hours for connecting bus services. Temperatures soared – in an angry way – and the premier seaside resort lost visitor numbers estimated in their thousands.
Which is a similar but sustained tale in Blackpool currently, where engineering works, originally due to complete in time for Easter, missed that deadline and now the extended date has also been missed. The resort’s main station is still operating under a temporary timetable – in which rush hour features one train and four buses, and a vast list of cancellations. The Blackpool community are up in arms with Northern Rail parody twitter accounts popping up.