A TRAIN operator has admitted misleading the public about an incident that left 150 passengers stranded.

Chiltern Railways told The Watford Observer in early June it decided to divide the 11.54pm train from Marylebone to Aylesbury after its driver discovered a tripcock system fault, which caused the two rear carriages' brakes to activate.

However, on Thursday, June 13, it told the BBC the driver accidentally detached the carriages just outside Harrow-on-the-Hill and drove off without them.

It was only when he reached Moor Park Station he realised his mistake and raised the alarm.

A spokesman for the train operator said on Tuesday, June 18, the company had not set out to deliberately mislead journalists.

She said: "We did not lie to you. There was some confusion here as to the information we should be giving out."

The spokesman blamed "a breakdown in communications" and said the company had only realised its error following an investigation into the incident, when it had admitted its mistake.

She said: "We have been very keen to set the record straight."

The spokesman admitted "assumptions had been made".

However, she refused to comment further when asked why this was the case when the train driver had realised his error not long after the incident occurred.

She said: "We would never be in a position to confirm anything that swiftly after an event."

Chiltern Railways previously told The Watford Observer a decision was made to divide the train.

However, this week the spokesman insisted the train operator had always admitted the accidental separation of the carriages.

June 21, 2002 14:30