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Excitement and ‘abject panic’ for Glastonbury revellers taking train to festival

Passengers bound for the Glastonbury Festival wait at Paddington station in London (Ashlee Ruggels/PA)
Passengers bound for the Glastonbury Festival wait at Paddington station in London (Ashlee Ruggels/PA)

Festival-goers have spoken of their stress and excitement after arriving at London Paddington to board trains for Glastonbury.

Thousands of ticket-holders have faced anxiety in the run-up to the festival over days of major rail and Tube strikes, with some trains to Castle Cary, which serves the festival via shuttle bus, cancelled just days before.

Jenna Conway, 30, and 26-year-old Sarah Tann, from London, arrived at Paddington at 7.30am on Wednesday looking to beat travel disruption caused by rail strikes but were left queueing for hours.

Glastonbury Festival 2022
Sarah Tann, 26, and Jenna Conway, 30, in Paddington station (Ashlee Ruggels/PA)

Ms Conway, who has been to Glastonbury five times, told the PA news agency: “We got here three hours ahead of our train, we were stupid, we just thought we could jump on any train.

“We thought they would be kind because of the strikes but they didn’t let us on so now we wait.

“The bus we take that gets us to Paddington station, the first stop is at our house, every stop after that was absolutely rammed.

“There were people arguing, bustling on, they had to turn loads of people away.”

She added she had been to Glastonbury several times with her father who was involved in an art collective with a group of disabled children.

At 9am hundreds of festival-goers were queueing at Paddington with their bags to get the service to Castle Cary.

Glastonbury Festival 2022
Sashia Norris, 25, and Camilla Seward, 26, at Paddington station (Ashlee Ruggels/PA)

Camilla Seward, who was travelling with her friend, 25-year-old Sasha Norris, described feeling “abject panic” when the rail strikes were announced.

The 26-year-old told PA: “Last week we weren’t quite sure how we were going to get there, we both live near Tubes in London so thought it would be easy but no, my back-up plan was to walk to Paddington which is an hour-and-a-half from Battersea with all my stuff, I was not going to miss my train.

“One of our friends is coming later this evening and I’m worried she is going to get caught up. We’ve got seats booked on the train so they must let you on the train, surely.

“It is my first ever actual festival, we bought the ticket nearly three years ago. I’ve been so stressed out about getting there that I haven’t even thought about who I am excited to see, but I was very excited for Taylor Swift who is no longer performing but it’ll be great nevertheless.”

Identical twins Victoria and Rebecca Wilkinson were among the festival-goers queuing with their bags at Paddington.

Rebecca, who has been to Glastonbury 10 times, said: “I think we’re OK because we have got tickets, I think anyone buying on the day will struggle.

“I am hoping for Harry Styles and Elton John to appear at Glastonbury, I am not a massive fan of the line-up but we don’t go for the line-up, so if Harry comes then it is just going to go off. It will go up a notch.”

Glastonbury Festival 2022
Rebecca and Victoria Wilkinson arrived early to board their train to Glastonbury Festival (Ashlee Ruggels/PA)

Victoria added: “I have been in Australia for 10 years so I missed five years of Glastonbury with my sister. This year there is eight of us glamping and my friend who has come all the way from Saudi Arabia to come with her mum will be there.

“She’s from Kent but works and lives in Saudi Arabia and has come especially over for Glastonbury to go with her mum, she’s 67 and she loves it.”

A spokeswoman for National Express, the official coach partner of the festival, said it was providing some 33,000 journeys each way from more than 70 UK locations.

She added: “Today is a busy day for us with over 50 staff on the ground at different locations and nearly 500 coaches on the road.

“There are some queues as we load passengers and minimal delays with departures but we are experienced in managing this and are confident customers will arrive in enough time to fully enjoy the festival.”

A spokesman for Great Western Railway, which operates the train service between London Paddington and Castle Cary close to Glastonbury festival, said seven of its nine additional train services had run between the two stations by 1.30pm on Wednesday.

The services are in addition to normal scheduled services that will also carry revellers to the site.

He added: “The services we planned have been running well.

“The majority of customers for the festival travel today, with a queueing system at Paddington, to manage demand, where necessary.

“The majority of customers have travelled now, and we are grateful for everyone’s patience.”