Edinburgh trains: James Nokise describes ‘insane’ journey to Edinburgh in black cab after train cancelled

The comedian travelled nearly 200 miles in a cab with strangers, finally arriving at 3am.
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A rail passenger has described his “insane” 11-hour journey to Edinburgh in a black cab when a train from London was cancelled mid-journey.

Stand-up comedian James Nokise said he was among “hundreds” of passengers forced to get off an Avanti West Coast train at Preston station in Lancashire on Monday night.

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While on the first train, Mr Nokise and other passengers received an email stating that the train was cancelled, which he said came as “a surprise” as it was still moving. He said the train manager announced on the speaker that he had “heard from passengers” that the train was cancelled, and confirmed that the train would terminate at the next stop in Preston.

The Avanti West Coast service was cancelled mid-journey
Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty ImagesThe Avanti West Coast service was cancelled mid-journey
Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images
The Avanti West Coast service was cancelled mid-journey Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

When the next Glasgow-bound train was full, frustrated passengers were advised to wait for the next one but it was also cancelled. The train company then arranged for taxis to take travellers to their destinations.

Mr Nokise said: “At 9.20pm the news came that alternative transport would be provided. It was taxis for about two hundred people to a city three and a half hours away. Except we weren’t all going to Edinburgh, because it wasn’t an express train. Some were going Glasgow, some to Dundee, Carlisle, and other stops. But all of us queued to be taken away 3-7 people at a time. And if that sounds slow and ridiculous, it was.”

The comedian was in the final group of travellers to get in a cab at 10.30pm – 15 minutes after he was due to arrive in the Scottish Capital. He was driven with three other people, with the taxi finally having arrived after 3am.

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He detailed his fraught journey in a black cab, which saw a near-crash on the motorway, several wrong-turns, and delays due to road closures, on social media. A member of the public even intervened on Twitter to give directions and help get the lost cab driver to Edinburgh.

James Nokise described his 'ridiculous' journey to Edinburgh in a cabJames Nokise described his 'ridiculous' journey to Edinburgh in a cab
James Nokise described his 'ridiculous' journey to Edinburgh in a cab

He said: “We left the station, and then [the taxi driver] pulled into a petrol station to fill up and “grab some snacks”. The driver then asked us, while holding his android phone, what the post code for Edinburgh station is. We said there are two stations.”

He expressed sympathy for the driver who had to stop and buy energy drinks, saying: "To be fair to our cab driver, it is late, it’s a dark highway, and he’s driving a city black cab not meant for this road. Throwing money at cab drivers and getting them to drive several hours in the middle of the night might not be the best contingency plan for train companies to have.”

In his final post on the trip, he wrote at 3.30am: “A truly insane odyssey. Five hours late, 11 hours after I jumped on the train.” During the taxi journey, Mr Nokise received an email from Avanti West Coast informing him he would receive £70 compensation, which was how much his ticket cost.

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The operator said that the disruption began after a driver of an Avanti West Coast Service reported a track defect at Lockerbie just after 4pm on September 25. Network Rail engineers were called to the scene and the line was closed. The defect was fixed with the line reopening around three hours later. The subsequent disruption had a “severe” impact on services.

An Avanti West Coast spokesperson said: “We apologise to our customers who were caught up in last night’s disruption. The closure of the West Coast Main Line for over three hours due to a track defect had a significant impact on our services, with trains and train crew unable to work our planned timetable resulting in cancellations of services north of Preston.

"Whilst alternative transport and overnight accommodation was sourced for most of those impacted we fully understand the frustrations of those customers whose journeys were affected, and we are extremely sorry for this. Anyone who was affected by last night’s disruption will be entitled to compensation and are urged to get in contact through our normal channels to process their claim.”