Commuters travelling from South Essex to London have been warned to expect ‘heavy delays’ this morning after it emerged that a number of trains had gone missing overnight. 

According to a joint statement from c2c and Greater Anglia, an unidentified prankster had taken the keys to train depots in Southend, Shoeburyness and East Ham overnight, before leaving the main doors open. 

This allowed around 50 trains to escape and bosses have admitted that they don’t know where they have gone. 

The press release added: ‘We would like to apologise for any disruption that this may cause for our customers – unfortunately the circumstances are beyond our control.’

‘We have received a badly-spelt WhatsApp message from one of the missing c2c trains to say that he has gone to get his air conditioning sorted out, but other than that all of the missing trains are still unaccounted for.’

‘Our train tracking team is currently looking into reports that a few carriages have been spotted shooting up the East Coast Main Line to see some distant cousins in York, but other than this we don’t have anything to go on.’

‘If we cannot get enough trains to operate our morning services, we will be forced to activate Operation Flintstone – this involves giving our drivers hi-vis jackets and asking them to lead ‘walking trains’ along the lines into Fenchurch Street and Liverpool Street.’

Sources within both operators have confirmed that ‘strong disciplinary action’ will be taken against any trains that have abandoned their duties – many c2c carriages are already on a ‘final warning’ after a drunken party got out of control a few months ago. 

According to one leaked memo, c2c bosses ‘regret’ purchasing new rolling stock that are capable of feeling emotions and thinking critically after getting inspiration from a 1984 episode of Thomas The Tank Engine.