In the House of Lords debate on the Schools Bill on Monday 18th July 2022, the Labour Party peer Lord Grocott mocked the fact that the first 18 clauses of the Bill have been withdrawn. He said to the minister,

But she must have realised by now that the Bill is beyond repair. If it does re-emerge, it will do so in such a different form from the one that started out that it will be tantamount to being a new Bill. In our attempts to improve it, I am reminded of the no doubt apocryphal British Rail announcement that the Wednesday afternoon train to Crewe would now run on Thursday mornings and would not stop at Crewe.


I'd never heard of this mythical announcement before, but I enjoyed the phrase. However, after a little bit of searching online, I could not find any record of similar expressions.

Is this announcement actually apocryphal? By which I mean, are there any references to similar announcements anywhere else?

Edit: To clarify, Lord Grocott is describing essentially a Ship of Theseus situation, where all clauses of the Bill are withdrawn and subsequently replaced, leading to questions about whether it can be said to be the same Bill. I am wondering if there are any other references to British Rail in literature to refer to this situation.

  • How close does an example have to be to the quoted text to count? Jul 20, 2022 at 16:52
  • @KillingTime well it doesn't need to mention Crewe specifically. But I want it to be relatively clear that this is what Lord Grocott was referring to, even if he has not paraphrased it very accurately.
    – SamR
    Jul 20, 2022 at 17:08
  • 1
    "Apocryphal" means that the announcement was never made. There are many weird announcements that were made, I worked for a while creating computerised announcements. If the operator pressed the wrong button and we didn't catch the exception...
    – Chenmunka
    Jul 20, 2022 at 17:08
  • @Chenmunka yes I am not looking for actual announcement - but if it's apocryphal that would mean there would be other references to the announcement, or similar announcements, and I can't find any.
    – SamR
    Jul 20, 2022 at 17:09
  • It's short for say 'the former Wednesday afternoon train to Crewe would now run on Thursday mornings and would not stop at Crewe', but leaving out 'former' makes it farcical. There's also a sense of established identity, as with 'the 4:50 from Paddington'. Jul 20, 2022 at 18:27

1 Answer 1


There are some hits in a filtered Google search for

"has been cancelled" train -"the train" -"your train" -"this train". Here are a few examples:

Grand Central Rail


ALTERED: The 14:56 London Kings Cross - Bradford Interchange service will start at Doncaster and will no longer run from London Kings Cross. This is due to a lineside fire causing damage to signalling cables.

The East Midland Railway replied to a fan on Twitter confirming that the 10.19am train has been cancelled



CANCELLATION: This evenings 19:57 London Kings Cross to Bradford Interchange has been cancelled. This is due to severe weather. There are no alternative services Grand Central rail services from London Kings Cross this evening.


GreaterAnglia.co.uk › travel-information

The 06:50 Southend Victoria to Liverpool Street service will Terminate at Shenfield. The 07:13 Southend Victoria to Liverpool Street service has been cancelled.


Flora Snelson; Yorkshire Evening Post; 2021

The 10.19am train from Peterborough to Norwich will not run on Sunday, East Midland Railway have confirmed....

The East Midland Railway replied to a fan on Twitter confirming that the 10.19am train has been cancelled

Obviously, these examples are from railway sources, but I'd consider the usage familiar to most people in the UK and, I'd guess, the US. [This being ELU, I'd better mention the missing apostrophe in evenings.]

How the expression may be given a stipulative / precising definition [Wikipedia] in law goes beyond the remit of ELU, I'm glad to say.

  • Thanks this is the type of announcement I mean. But I don't think I asked the question very well. I am trying to find people's use of the phrase in newspapers or literature, or recounting of this apocryphal announcement anywhere else in culture, rather than actual train announcements, which is the sort of thing that the Google search returns. It seems like the sort of thing that could be in a Terry Pratchett book, although if it is I can't find it.
    – SamR
    Jul 21, 2022 at 11:21
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    I myself wouldn't bat an eyelid if I heard this (well, I might smile at the irony). // You're right about the question itself: for 'mythical' I'd at least use scare quotes, and for 'apocryphal' I'd perhaps choose 'niche'. Jul 21, 2022 at 11:27
  • Thanks - I have updated the question. Yes I found it quite funny but also I felt it wasn't perfectly expressed and was hoping I might find a slightly better recounting of the myth.
    – SamR
    Jul 21, 2022 at 11:30
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    Google's "million hits" number is completely fabricated. There's 138 (not including "similar results"). I suggest you remove that part and not use that number going forward. It's never accurate
    – Laurel
    Jul 21, 2022 at 11:48
  • Thank you for the correction, Laurel. Finding examples isn't too easy, though I'm convinced the usage is pretty common. Jul 21, 2022 at 11:55

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