A RAILWAY passenger has told of a nightmare journey which cost him two days' pay and a £50 taxi fare.

Kevin Busby, a baker from Darlington, found himself stranded in Bath for two days because of the rail disruption.

When he was finally able to begin his journey back to the North-East, on Virgin-operated trains, he had to make a 550-mile round trip, more than double the normal distance.

On arriving in Newcastle there were no services to Darlington because of track repairs and Mr Busby had to pay £50 for a taxi to get home.

He also lost pay because he was two days late getting back to work.

He said: "Trains have been running for years and years and then, all of a sudden, there are all these problems.

"You have to ask: what is going on? I think it is a bit of a shambles, really."

Mr Busby, 35, was visiting friends in Bath last month and paid for a return fare. But on the day he was due to travel back, the station at Bristol was closed because of a collision between two freight trains.

There were no rail services north of Birmingham because of restrictions and problems caused by flooding.

Two days later Mr Busby, who was now due back at work, was able to start his return journey. However, rather than travelling from Bristol, up through the Midlands and Yorkshire, to get back to the North-East, his rail journey took a lengthy twist.

Restrictions meant he had to travel from Bath to Newport, in Wales, to Crewe, then to Carlisle, nefore reaching Newcastle.

He caught a taxi from Newcastle and arrived in Darlington at 10.30pm, having started his journey at midday.

Mr Busby has since written to Virgin to complain and is asking for compensation.

Dennis Lovett, of Virgin, said that it was dealing with a backlog of applications from rail passengers asking for refunds, which were being dealt with in turn.

He said: "We are getting 4,000 applications every day at the moment, which we are working around the clock to process. But people will get a reply."

l Middlesbrough football fans planning to travel by train to Sunderland's Stadium of Light for Saturday's crucial derby match are being advised to think again.

Cleveland Police are urging supporters to find alternative means of transport because the coast route through Hartlepool is closed due to a landslip, and the east coast mainline is closed between Darlington and Newcastle because of repairs in the aftermath of the Hatfield train crash