How a Yorkshire businessman missed the luxury train he owns in seconds


Fed up, David Pitts has a drink in a London pub before taking the train back to Wakefield.

The sparkling 1930s-style Northern Belle slowly exited Platform 1 at Victoria Station as David Pitts and his son Declan rushed towards the station.

The railway staff had not been able to delay the departure for fear of disrupting the tightly organized schedule from Kent to Dover and back to London.

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Belle of the North.

A disappointed Mr. Pitts said, “I was absolutely drained. All I could do was say goodbye to the 200 passengers on board as they sipped their champagne.

The problem started after the 8:58 am LNER train between Wakefield and London on Friday was delayed by almost an hour due to a fire.

He was due to arrive at King’s Cross station at 11:01 a.m., but didn’t arrive until 12:10 p.m. – leaving the pair just 20 minutes to cross the bustling capital to Victoria.

Mr Pitts said: ‘We made our way through a crowd of passengers and rushed to catch the subway.

“Then we phoned the staff at Northern Belle to let them know we were late.

“But they couldn’t delay it because they had to stay on schedule for the round trip through Kent.

“We knew it was touch and go and we needed every second if we were to get there on time.

“And it was heartbreaking to see the train start to come off the platform just as we got there.

“All Declan and I could do was say goodbye to all the passengers and especially the friends we were looking forward to traveling with.

“We looked into the possibility of taking a high speed train to Dover to catch up with the Northern Belle, but that ultimately turned out to be impossible.

“So we must have missed our Christmas lunch and taken another train back home to Yorkshire.

“Declan, known as 16BitDec in the online world, had planned to broadcast a live stream from the train.”

Mr Pitts, nicknamed The Ad Man in Wakefield where he runs DP Publicity, bought the Northern Belle from iconic group Orient Express in 2017 for an undisclosed sum.

Earlier this year, he was featured on Channel 5’s “The World’s Most Scenic Rail Rides” when actor Bill Nighy described him as “the Grand Duchess of luxury train travel”.

One of the seven carefully refurbished shadow and cream carriages, called the ‘Duart’, was part of the Queen’s Royal Train.

And Mr Pitts should have joined his VIP guests to enjoy a seven-course Christmas lunch starting with canapes, salmon and parsnip soup, before a main course of turkey and Gressingham duck roulade prepared by the chef. on board Matthew Green.

A guest said: ‘We were stunned as we walked out of Victoria to see breathless David and Declan waving to us from the platform.

“Then a member of the train staff explained what had happened.

“It was disappointing that they couldn’t join us. But we still raised a glass of champagne for them – before enjoying our delicious lunch.

“I guess it’s a bit of Christmas crackers to miss your own train. However, it seems that even though the Northern Belle ran exactly on time, David’s train from Wakefield couldn’t. “

The Northern Belle will perform a last Christmas lunch of £ 289 per head from Huddersfield on Tuesday (December 21).

Mr Pitts said: “There are still a few seats left. Unfortunately Declan won’t be able to come, but my wife Helen and I will see if we can get on board – but we’ll make sure we get to the station on time!

The train is also expected to make several trips from Yorkshire next year, including several steam trips.

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