Just hours after confirming a 3.1% increase in next year’s train fares to a less than happy public, industry body, The Rail Delivery Group, has announced that the implementation of the new price structure will be have to be delayed.

Their spokesman, Neville Miller said: ‘Because of this year’s prolonged and exceptionally hot Summer, the UK’s Autumnal leaf-dropping cycle has been adversely affected. As a result we are fighting an abnormal build-up of the wrong kind of leaves which have now settled on the roof of the computer centre which controls pricing. Their more brittle texture, as they are drier than normal, is somehow jamming the Internet, you see.’

‘However we have deployed a team of engineers to rectify the situation with the necessary work due to be completed by December 12th, that is so long as the operation doesn’t overrun.’

Meanwhile Michael Portillo, who despite dressing like a circus clown, nevertheless knows quite a bit about trains was quick to caution the public to not expect to be let off the increase if the problem still remains by January.

Looking vaguely odd in crimson trousers, a yellow striped blazer, pink cravat and purple straw boater he told Naga Munchetty: ‘The train companies will simply claw any money back with further price increases to make up the shortfall, so I’m afraid the public cannot expect any kind of reprieve by way of a windfall.’