"Oooh, I don't know if we do that. Doesn't somebody else?" said Joanne Couzens of Railtrack cautiously, as I enquired about how to find rail connections with the rest of Europe on a British Internet site.
This was the fifth phone call. The British Rail operator I called first didn't know, but put me on to Virgin West Coast which didn't reply. Allison Flynn of South West Trains couldn't help, and suggested Paul Lawson at the Association of Train Operating Companies. He couldn't help either, but put me on to Railtrack.
Eventually, I tracked down the Railtrack web site and was warned to read the legal message first. It told me that if I wanted information I must "further agree that the Courts of England and Wales shall have exclusive jurisdiction in respect of any dispute". It went on to say that the timetables "may be incomplete, inaccurate or ... become out of date".
Without consulting my solicitor, I braved court action and tried to find the times of trains between Barrow-in-Furness and Rome.
Rome, came the reply, was not known. Barrow and Bonn? Bonn, not known. Barrow and Amsterdam? Amsterdam, not known.
Then I went to the German Railways site. There were no preliminary legal threats.
Barrow-in-Furness to Rome? Certainly, mein Herr. The quickest journey will take 25 hours 15 minutes and if you leave Barrow-in-Furness on the 5.33 you can be in Roma Ostiense by 6.48 the next morning, changing at Lancaster, Euston, Lille, Paris, Lyon and Turin. (Carnforth 6.18, Wigan North Western 7.12, Paris Nord 14.32, St-Jean-de-Maurienne 20.52, Pisa 3.23)
The Germans will also give you the times of the quickest connections from Potters Bar to Kew Gardens, journey time 1.14.
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