True stories from the Great Railway Disaster; No 59: so you want to do an interview at a station ?

A weekly chronicle of the absurdities caused by the Government's privatisation programme
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The Independent Online
RICHARD Grimmer, a radio journalist on work experience with the BBC World Service, had an interesting journey on the highways and byways of rail privatisation when he wanted to interview members of the public at Euston station.

Wanting to do things correctly, he rang one of the train companies operating from there to notify them of his plan, but was told that the station belonged to Railtrack. Railtrack's head office referred him to the Midland Zone press office in Birmingham. It in turn referred him back to a Steve Tyler in London.

Mr Grimmer finally got through to Mr Tyler next day, only to be referred back to the Midland Zone press office. As time was getting short, Mr Grimmer decided to try Waterloo station instead and was referred to a Jenny Rawlinson of Railtrack at the station. She was in a meeting but an assistant asked him whether he would prefer the concourse or the platform, which sounded promising. He opted for the platform.

"Ah, they belong to South West Trains and you will have to ask them," was the reply.

He opted for the concourse instead. The assistant said he would phone back but didn't. When Mr Grimmer rang again, he got through to a Joanne Cousins who claimed to be the right person to talk to. She would, however, have to accompany him, and couldn't accommodate him that day.

As Mr Grimmer's deadline was fast approaching, she suggested he try Victoria. Success. Mr Grimmer got through to the right person, "Robin", on the first call.

Yes, he could fit Mr Grimmer in at such short notice. There was a catch, however: Robin said a security guard would have to stand next to him, "a bargain", according to Mr Grimmer, "at the knock-down sum of pounds 100 per hour or part thereof". Mr Grimmer declined and went off to Covent Garden, sighing: "So now I know why all the experienced journalists advised me to ignore my tutors' advice and record first, avoid security guards later."

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