Why this family needed a lifeboat rescue when their train didn’t show up at Berney Arms

The Coyle family needed rescuing by a lifeboat from the Berney Arms after their train failed to turn

The Coyle family needed rescuing by a lifeboat from the Berney Arms after their train failed to turn up. - Credit: Archant

When your train does not turn up as scheduled, it can be an immensely frustrating experience - but it does not normally necessitate an emergency call-out and a lifeboat rescue.

Berney Arms windmill and the isolated train station.

Berney Arms windmill and the isolated train station. - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2010

Yet that was the fate of the Coyle family, after a day trip to explore the area around Berney Arms, on the edge of Breydon Water.

Robert and Emily Coyle, their three-month-old son Daniel and three-year-old daughter Eleanor had travelled out to the remote spot on Sunday by train.

But when they returned to the stop to catch the service home, they found that it had been diverted away from the stop. With the area only reachable by river, or via a long walk back to Yarmouth or Reedham, they had to rely on a lifeboat to get them home, finally returning home at 9.30pm – 12 hours after they had left.

Abellio Greater Anglia, which runs the service, has apologised to the family. It said a points failure meant services had been diverted via Acle and that it was investigating the incident.

Berney Arms train station.

Berney Arms train station. - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2010


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The points failure is the responsibility of Network Rail.

The family had caught the Sunday morning train out to Berney Arms request stop from Yarmouth, where they live. They returned to the stop at 1.30pm, in good time for the 2pm service back to Yarmouth. However, the time came and went, with no sign of the train.

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The stop is unmanned but the family used a 'help point' button which allows passengers to contact National Rail Enquiries.

Mr Coyle added: 'I was told the train was delayed so we waited and as the next train to Norwich also did not arrive we asked again and were told there were signalling issues.

'Thirty minutes later we were told the train had already served Berney Arms and was arriving into Norwich which clearly was not the case as we were standing on a single platform. It was only at 4.50pm when they told us the station was not going to be served.'

With his children struggling Mr Coyle rang the police and explained the family's predicament. They called for Hemsby Lifeboat to come to their rescue.

The lifeboat picked up the family by the Berney Arms windmill at 6.15pm and took them across to Burgh Castle, where a car organised by the lifeboatmen was waiting to take them home.

Mr Coyle said: 'It was an incredibly frustrating day and it is a trip we will never do again.

'Thankfully we all survived with just dehydration and sunburns. The children were fantastic, given the situation. Daniel just slept most of the time and Eleanor handled it really well, though she had to take the day off nursery yesterday due to her sunburns but she will be fine.

'The kids had a lot to drink, not so much myself, but the main issue was there was no cover at the station to protect us from the sun.

An Abellio Greater Anglia spokesman said: 'We would like to apologise to Mr Coyle.

'A number of services on the Great Yarmouth line were disrupted due to a points failure, meaning that not all scheduled services were able to serve Berney Arms.

'Such circumstances are very unusual, but very inconvenient for those affected, so we have launched an investigation into the problems and the information provided via the helpline to Mr Coyle.'

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