When first class goes wrong: passengers throw punches and coffee in row over a seat

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Anna Pollitt

It's no secret that London can be a brutal place to commute, but we may have just reached the ultimate apex of train twattery.

Two first class passengers, described by one irate fellow commuter as "f***ing clowns," threw hot coffee over each other in a fight over a seat on a busy train bound for London on Monday.

Instead of enjoying the salubrious surroundings of Southern Rail's premium carriage, the feisty chaps started their week with a territorial dispute on the 6:29am Littlehampton to London Bridge service, while passengers crowded into standard class looked on.

As the train approached Hove, punches were thrown, coffee was flung, police were called and the service was cancelled. 

men on train

Warning: Contents may be used as a weapon

Naturally, people tweeted about the incident:

“There was a disturbance in one of the First Class accommodation areas on the 06.29 Littlehampton to London Bridge service at Hove,” Southern Rail said.

“...As a result of this incident, the train was 28 minutes late leaving Hove station and to ensure the timetable was not disrupted by a very late train arriving in London, the train was terminated at Gatwick Airport, where passengers boarded alternative London Bridge services.” 

British Transport police confirmed that officers “spoke to two men about the alleged incident” but no arrests were made.

Last year Southern was criticised for fining commuters who sat in first class when there was no space left in standard class.

Coffeegate follows a heavily pregnant Southern passenger being forced to stand for two hours on her journey to work last week when no-one would give up their seat.

We've previously examined how many city dwellers are guilty of LLLD (low-level London dickheadedness) on public transport - think tutting at slow-moving tourists or side-eyeing the last-minute fumblers for an Oyster card holding up a queue - but that all seems so quaint compared to recent train dramas.

Are commuters having a bad few weeks? Or is our simmering anger finally bubbling over from ever-so-British passive aggression into something far more audacious?

Tell us your experiences in the comments section below or on Facebook


Images: iStock/Rex Features


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Anna Pollitt

Anna is a freelance writer and editor who’s been making her dime from online since 2007. She’s a regular at, ITV News and Emerald Street and moonlights as a copywriter and digital content consultant. The baby is borrowed.

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