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Aston Villa unhappy as fans were stranded by rail strike


Rail bosses have come under fire after Villa fans were left ‘stranded’ in Brighton – including one supporter who reportedly slept in the car park of the away ground.

Supporters were left facing rail chaos after the 1-1 draw on Friday after a string of trains were cancelled from nearby Falmer station following the game.

More than 2,000 Villa fans made the journey down south. And according to social media reaction one Villa fan is even said to have given up hope of getting home after the Championship match and slept in the car park of Brighton and Hove Albion’s Amex Stadium.

A statement on the home club’s website said: “Brighton & Hove Albion would like to thank the majority of supporters from the club, and our visitors Aston Villa, for their patience when travelling home by train from the match.

“With a capacity crowd at the Amex, Southern Rail made several late and unannounced cancellations just prior to the end of the match creating chaos for those using the train to get home.” The club’s chief executive Paul Barber said: “We would like to thank our fans, but also the supporters of Aston Villa, for their patience and understanding in frustrating circum­stances.

“I would also like to thank our operations team for their hard work in very testing circum­stances, and Brighton & Hove Buses for their assistance.

“It’s totally unacceptable from Southern Rail to leave passengers stranded in this way and we will be demanding a full explanation from them as to why they so badly let down supporters of both clubs.”

Fans took to social media to dismiss the conditions.

Rory Tennant wrote on Twitter: “30,000 fans stranded at Falmer after #BHAFC match with villa #southernfail cancelling trains. Young children caught in the crush pathetic”.

The RMT’s general secretary Mick Cash said: “The dangerous chaos at Falmer after the game on Friday night was entirely down to the sheer managerial incompetence of Southern Rail. They were running short formations and cancelling services on the hoof due to their pathetic lack of advanced planning for this major fixture. The attempt to lump the blame on front line staff who worked flat out to try and keep passengers safe is disgusting. RMT will be writing to the safety regulator, the Office of Rail and Road, this morning demanding a full inves­tiga­tion. “

A Southern Rail spokesman said: “Unfor­tunately, we were unable to provide our usual additional service for home games due to a temporary shortage of train crew. We worked through the evening to try to provide cover for these trains, but were unable to on this occasion.”

With more industrial action planned by Southern Rail staff Brighton might face similar problems at future games.

JB

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