Elderly couple 'stranded on moors' for hours with just bottle of water and a biscuit after train suddenly stops

An elderly couple were left ‘stranded in the middle of nowhere’ for six hours with just a small bottle of water and a single biscuit to sustain them after their train service to Blackpool broke down.

By Wes Holmes
Wednesday, 22nd January 2020, 6:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 22nd January 2020, 9:39 am

Neville Cowie, 83, and Barbara Howie, 79, were travelling from Newcastle on Thursday, January 16, when a damaged cable at Hest Bank brought their train to a sudden stop outside Lancaster at around 12.30pm.

Neville said: “We were stuck on the moors and somebody came with a bottle of water. I got a chocolate biscuit and that’s all we had to eat or drink. We were stuck there for about six hours, and they couldn’t even offer us a tea or coffee.”

At around 5.30pm, passengers were allowed to leave the train, and walked to another train which took them back to Oxenholme station.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Engineers worked overnight to repair the cables. Picture by Network Rail

From there, the couple took a coach to Preston station, and then another train to Blackpool North. They finally arrived ‘well past 7pm’ - more than six hours later than they were supposed to.

Barbara, of Northumberland Avenue, Cleveleys, said: “I was so tired of waiting. At first they didn’t say anything about what was happening, and then suddenly they announced that a line had broken down further on. Then they went quiet for a long time. When I finally got up to get out my back was killing me.”

She said they intended to claim back the £90 they spent on the disastrous journey.

A spokesman for Northern said: “Due to issues with the overhead lines on Thursday last week, a number of our services were significantly impacted.

Neville Cowie and Barbara Howie

“Sadly, in a small number of cases, this resulted in trains being stuck on the tracks for several hours.

“We worked closely with colleagues from Network Rail to get our customers on the move as soon as possible and, where this was not possible, safely transferred people to trains that were able to operate.”

Network Rail engineers worked overnight to repair the 25,000-volt cables, with power being fully restored by 7am on Friday.


Phil James, director for Network Rail’s North West route, said: "I want to say sorry to passengers for the disruption and discomfort they faced making their journeys yesterday. The damaged overhead lines made travelling by train very difficult at times and we thank passengers for their patience while we worked hard to get people moving again.

"Everything was done to get things back up and running as fast as we could, with dozens of staff out fixing the damage and repairing the railway throughout the night, ready for (Friday)."