Schoolchildren refused tickets by train company

The train the children would have travelled on
The train the children would have travelled on

A group of 56 schoolchildren have been left devastated after a day trip was cancelled because a railway company refused to sell them tickets.

The Year One and Two pupils, aged between five and seven, as well as 11 adults planned to leave Bedford Station at 9.35am on June 26.

They were due to arrive at Millbrook Station following a 16-minute journey before going on a nature walk in the Forest of Marston Vale, Beds.

Anita Hemsley, the head teacher of Priory Lower School in Bedford, said the same trip had gone ahead the year before but when she went to book the tickets she was refused.

As she went to pay she was told she could no longer buy them, and when she asked to speak to a senior manager she was told they could not travel on it due to “health and safety”.

He offered her a later or earlier one but unfortunately the school was unable to schedule in a different train for the children and the trip had to be cancelled.

The London Midland manager said it was because the 153-type train had 70 seats and there was not enough space.

But Ms Hemsley said an offer of putting on an extra carriage was made last year but was not needed - because the train is always virtually empty.

Ms Hemsley said: “The children are extremely disappointed as this is the only time that we can take the trip.

“This was a fantastic opportunity to visit and enjoy the Bedfordshire countryside and was enjoyed immensely by the children last year.

“What would have happened if we or any other school had just turned up and bought tickets at the station?”

The manager told her she should never have been offered the extra carriage.

A spokesman for London Midland said: “We are extremely sorry that we are unable to fulfil this group booking request.

“We have very limited capacity on the Marston Vale line.

“As with all group-booking requests we have to consider the comfort and safety of all our passengers.

“We monitor train loadings and feedback from staff and passengers when considering if we can accommodate bookings for large groups.

“Unfortunately it isn’t possible to take such a large number on this particular train but we have offered the school alternative services.”