SHE had travelled across the world to be hosted by Hereford, only to find Ledbury was the end of the line.

And a cold, wet, windswept Ledbury at that.

In the Taiwan she came from such treatment was unforgivable. But in 21st Britain common courtesies appeared to have been abandoned.

Much as she was at Ledbury station, another 'victim' of the controversial turn-back policy operated by Central Trains - the rail company running Hereford-Birmingham routes.

Turn-back terminates late trains short of their destination station so time can be made up on the return journey.

That means Hereford bound passengers are turned off the train at either Malvern or Ledbury where they wait for the next service - whenever that is and whatever the time of day or night.

Festering frustration felt by many local rail-users was lanced in a letter to The Hereford Times last month. Similar stories of being 'dumped' at darkened, unwelcoming stations were soon on the way.

That frustration turned to anger, and not a little national embarrassment, at what happened to a Taiwanese student travelling to a host family in Hereford.

Ron Munden, writer of one of those original 'turn back' letters, took up her tale of woe.

Out of New Street and excited about the 'seasonal English hospitality' she expected to experience, the student, along with several fellow passengers, found herself off at Ledbury as their train was turned back.


Warm carriages were swapped for a freezing, rainswept platform where they would wait for more than 40 minutes.

Bewildered by what was going on and anxious about a host waiting at Hereford station, only the kindness of strangers - more used to such circumstances - kept obvious upset at bay.

The dishevelled and distraught young lady that eventually arrived in Hereford could only compare her situation to protocol back home.

There, to keep a host waiting is discourteous. Extending that wait to a host who is both a stranger and offering friendship would be unforgivable.

Mr Munden wasn't in a forgiving mood. Central Trains are now well aware of what he thinks. He's hearing from more and more people who feel the same way - having suffered turn back for the past three years.

Central Trains were in touch too, sorry at his 'disappointment' with their service and promising timetable changes effective this month.

Terminating trains short of their destination was a 'last available option' to 'minimise delays for the majority.

But sometimes, says Mr Munden, that majority needs reminding that the few are 'flesh and blood'.