True stories from the Great Railway Disaster

A weekly chronicle of the absurdities of privatisation: No 96; so you want to phone from the train ?
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One very useful addition to services available on trains in recent years has been the phonecard-operated telephone. Last week, Leah Leneman of Edinburgh tried to make a phone call while on a Manchester to Leeds train but found her phonecard would not fit.

She approached the conductor who said: "BT have just put new phones in and they take a different kind of phone card."

"Oh, can I buy one then?"

"No. Only the old kind. But don't blame BR - sorry Regional Railways - blame BT."

"But why didn't BT supply you with the new phonecards?"

"The catering is contracted out. It's the caterers who sell them and BT didn't tell them about the new phones, so they've got thousands of the old ones in stock."

Ms Leneman comments: "So, I had no way of contacting the person awaiting my arrival."

The "Mad" railway column is to be featured again this week on the Watchdog programme at 7pm on Thursday on BBC1.