A FRUSTRATED pensioner who asked a train driver to lower the volume of their horn has denied 'verbally abusing' the woman and instead claimed it was the driver who became 'aggressive'.

Passengers on the 10.26pm Great Western Railway service to Henley came to a stop at Shiplake last month after 71-year-old Vivien Pheasant confronted the train driver over the 'heart-stopping' noise.

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The later 11.03pm service from Twyford, Berkshire, was also cancelled as a result, with the driver saying she did not feel able to carry on her shift.

Mrs Pheasant said her decision to speak with the driver followed 'incredibly loud' horns on the prior Saturday night.

She explained: "We beleaguered residents wrote to GWR and asked that this particular driver should not be used on the branch line again. We were told that the driver would be spoken to.

Oxford Mail:

"On Monday evening, at the same time, the train came through Shiplake and the driver blasted in exactly the same manner as on the previous Saturday.

"Concerned that we would all be sufferring yet another disturbed night, it seemed reasonable to go out when the train returned and ask the driver to moderate the horn."

The grandmother-of-five said she did this in a 'very polite manner' but the driver 'immediately became aggressive'.

She insisted the pair had a short conversation but that 'at no time could I be accused of verbal abuse' adding: "As for the situation at Twyford, when the driver refused to work, I am extremely sorry that this caused inconvenience to a number of passengers travelling to Henley but the delay was not of my making."

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Drivers must sound the horn as they approach a foot crossing to the south of Lower Shiplake and again before leaving the station northbound as there is immediately a level crossing.

A number of accidents occurred at the crossing before barriers and CCTV were installed in 2013.

Mrs Pheasant, however, said it was at the driver's discretion how loud this needed to be.

She explained: "A group of residents and I are line-side neighbours in Shiplake. We have had an arrangement for around three years, whereby we advise GWR of any horn sounded at an excessive volume.

"A senior manager then speaks to the driver concerned and, in theory, the driver will sound the horn more moderately on future trips."

She said this was due to a change in the horns, explaining: "What had previously been a friendly toot, frequently became a heart-stopping blast. Many drivers continue with the friendly toot but equally, some do not."

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In 2016, there was also a reduction in the hours a drivers should not sound the horn, known as the Night Time Quiet Period.

Mrs Pheasant said Network Rail had also asked the Rail Standards and Safety Board (RSSB) to make a change to the rules over and residents hoped soon there would be a trial period, during which drivers will no longer be required to sound the horn.

She added: "Unfortunately, changing the rule book is no small task, requiring much gathering of facts and figures and it is taking some time to achieve. "Nevertheless, it will be worth the wait, as the impact of the horn on the health and general welfare of adults and young children, woken from sleep, is considerable."

A GWR spokesman said the company stood by its original statement, which said: “We are very sorry that we had to cancel services because one of our drivers was verbally abused by a member of the public.

"In accordance with rail safety standards, our drivers have to sound the horn as they approach a level crossing, which has frustrated some local residents living near the line.

"We will continue to work with Network Rail to find a suitable solution.

"Customers who were delayed may be entitled to compensation or a refund on the cost of their journey and we would urge them to get in touch."