As the new rail fares hit us in the pocket this month, south London and Surrey's train companies have been strongly reminding us all that they are investing in the future with glitzy new trains and cutting-edge technology. 

Tomorrow sees First Capital Connect launch a new "state-of-the-art" Thameslink train that will become part of the Wimbledon loop network in three years. 

The company is inviting you, the passenger, to travel to the ExCel centre in east London in the middle of a Wednesday to have a look - so chances are you might not get a chance.

And Southern, FCC's more adult cousin, has joined the 21st century with a new smartphone app "designed by passengers, for passengers" which provides real-time information about service disruptions.

Neither announcement mentioned how they improve the trains being late, or cancelled, which is the complaint we hear from our readers each day.

So we've had a look through the archives and picked out the more memorable excuses for why your train is late.


1. "Heavy icing"

Richmond and Twickenham Times: More than 100 rail passengers have been stranded after their train became stuck in snow (stock image)

No this is not part of a Nigella cupcake recipe: it's train lingo for "it's cold" when the Thameslink service was stalled for more than two hours in 2010.

2. Mudslide

Four hundred people queued all the way around a Croydon post office in August 2011 to wait for the train after heavy rain caused quite a mess on the tracks and ruining Southern's Croydon to Brighton service for most of the day. 

Richmond and Twickenham Times: Pictures from the scene of a mudslide on a rail line in Croydon.

3. "We had a dog on the lines"

A stray dog in Surrey, apparently not fussed about a train hurtling towards him, caused a delay of 18 minutes while was picked up in Claygate and taken away by the station manager. 

Richmond and Twickenham Times: A guide dog in York Minster.

(Not the actual dog - just a picture of a dog)

4. "The driver’s seat was wet and unusable"

A rather miffed train driver announced to passengers in February 2013 that he would not be taking them to Victoria because someone had mistaken the driver's cabin for a toilet

Richmond and Twickenham Times: High street shops to leave toilet doors open

5. German lorry too tall

The Germans may be the economic powerhouse of Europe and better at football than us, but their Sat Navs were clearly rubbish in 2007. South West Trains to Kingston from Wimbledon were delayed by an hour after a German lorry crashed into a railway bridge.

Richmond and Twickenham Times: Emergency services survey the damage to the lorry Deadlinepix KT12844

6. Passenger mutiny

In February 2010, 20 passengers refused to budge from their seats after being told a First Capital Connect Train was being taken out of service.

Incredibly it worked, as a spokesman explained: "Twenty passengers would not get off the train and eventually, because of that, the train did then run.”

Richmond and Twickenham Times: Pupils protest against unviersity fees

(Stock pic of a slightly larger protest about university tuition fees)

7. "We have had a horrible week"

Nothing wrong with a bit of honesty, as door problems and vandalism added to the usual problems for Thameslink way back in December 2003.

Richmond and Twickenham Times: Depression can affect one in five people. Picture posed by model

(Stock pic of someone probably having a horrible week(

8. “He collided with the barrier fewer than 30 seconds before a train was due to pass through."

Some of us have such busy lives that we risk death or disfigurement because we can't wait for a train to pass through a level crossing. In August 2010 a the driver survived but smashed through the level crossing at West Barnes Lane, between the South West Trains route between Raynes Park and New Malden.

Richmond and Twickenham Times: CROY: Croydon man given suspended sentence for smashing through train barrier

9. Train reshuffle

Do you remember the great train reshuffle of 2004? No I don't either, but it caused massive disruption as part of an "EU-wide standardisation of timetables".

Richmond and Twickenham Times:

Clapham Junction: In how many European languages can you say "cancelled"?

10. Doors are too small

Things must have been bad 10 years ago because not only were our timetables out of sync with Luxembourg, but the trains were late in 2004 partly because we couldn't squeeze in quickly enough! 

Richmond and Twickenham Times: South West Trains promises improved communication after snow chaos

What's the most unusual reason the train companies have given you for your service being delayed or cancelled? Leave a comment below or email

We are also looking for YOUR Top 10 ideas - just tell us what you would like to know and we will find the answers in easy-to-chew list-based format.