A week or so ago my wife and I took four hours to make the journey by train from London Victoria to Lewes, considerably longer than it should have taken!
It was all part of the catastrophic signalling breakdown that impacted thousands of journeys that week.
As often happens in a crisis a sort of bonding instinct kicked in and fellow passengers began actually talking to one another in a sense of shared injury.
The old hands regaled us with tales of woe about agonisingly disrupted journeys taken on that line with a regular monotony.
Those of us infrequent travellers expressed sympathy and amazement at the shocking state of the railways.
The staff did their best as far as we could see, given the meltdown of the system, expressing regret and empathy for people’s distress.
They made announcements about intended destinations of trains, only to have to contradict themselves a minute later.
Passengers became wandering tribes drifting from one train to another following instructions and hoping for a train to depart for desired destinations.
There were attempts at humour, but there were also angry outbursts and displays of temper from some passengers.
The question struck me, who is to blame for this chaos?
It is hardly the train guard or station staff.
They, like everyone else, are trying to make the best of a bad job.
Obviously the immediate cause was a mechanical breakdown of some sort.
But, when one failure is followed by a string of other failures, then one must question the quality of equipment and standard of maintenance.
The bottom line is that the train companies must be rigorous in ensuring that management is as tight and thorough as it can be and that it invests appropriately in staff and equipment to ensure the best possible and most efficient service money can buy.
Meanwhile passengers who want to scream and lash out should remember the majority understand where the faults lie and should swallow hard and accept their lot.
An angry outburst will not get them home any quicker!