'We admit that our record for punctuality is abjectly, toe-curlingly, hog-whimperingly bad,” a TransPennine Express spokeslocomotive told a rail users' meeting in Darlington station sidings.
'However, we are determined to try and make the figures look better, and that is why most our trains will now be setting off some hours before they were due to leave.
'From tomorrow, some 30 or 40% of our services will depart two or three hours earlier than scheduled, and another 20% four hours earlier.
'In that way, our passengers will probably still arrive late at their destinations, but at least we'll be able to say that they got there quicker than if they had walked, or crawled, the entire distance.
'And we may be running some services the previous day, to make up for the dozens of trains we’d cancelled.
“But we can’t say which particular trains will be setting off before their scheduled times of departure, because then we'd have given them a new official departure time - and we’d be right back where we'd started, wouldn’t we?
'Frankly, the best way of working with our new timetable is for all you passengers to turn up at the station approximately six hours before you plan to travel and then grab the first service that trundles your way.
“We realise that waiting six hours for a TransPennine train to appear is pretty much what you’ve been doing all along - but this way, we won’t have to pay out so much in compensation to you for the failings of our pitiful excuse for a railway service.'