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Nigel Harris gets it right

Thursday, January 14 2010

Platitudes and weasley words is the all-too-frequent response of the UK’s media to the scandals and disasters which in a more responsible age would have led to resignations of directors and politicians. So, when an distinguished railway industry editor cuts through Britain’s no blame culture’ red tape (I was going to use a stronger word, but am advised that it is unsuitable in a blog which is aimed at a family audience) and says it as it really is – it is a an occasion for rejoicing.

Nigel Harris, editor of Rail magazine, wins Tunnel Vision’s congratulations for his brilliant piece, The shame of Eurostar & Eurotunnel – Saturday January 9 2010. Here is a short excerpt.

Managers far removed from the front line seem to have no conception of the misery they impose on ordinary folk when they get it wrong, or dither, or are risk averse in getting things moving when it goes horribly wrong. Is it because many of them today have not ‘come up through the ranks’ and are therefore managing a product they cannot see and have not had to deliver personally themselves?

I plead guilty to this charge myself. in the aftermath of an incident or accident, offering lots of specialist media comment, I too can get so wrapped up in talk of signals and track, motors, snow or human error, or whatever it’s about, that I also fail to really relate to (or sometimes even consider) in any detail what the passengers have gone through on the front line. That’s wrong – they are the most important people.

Harris goes on to publish the story of  Emma Powney, a mother returning with her young family from a day out at Euro Disney. I will not quote from Emma’s harrowing tale. You really must go to Rail’s on-line site and read Nigel’s article and Emma’s account for yourself. Nigel concludes his no-holds-barred account with the following advice.

Chris Garnett’s independent report must make sense of this shambles – otherwise his own top-notch reputation will be tarnished by this masterclass in incompetence from Eurostar and Eurotunnel.

Here’s one suggestion, Chris, for after the important big recommendations are made. Why not ask Emma if her account can be made available as part of the mandatory training for anyone who has anything to do with Eurotunnel and Eurostar?

Better still, ask her and some of the others she says shared her family’s ordeal to stand up in front of these ‘managers’ and have them tell those who failed them so badly just what misery their dithering and failings put them through. Eye to eye.

Now if you have not already done so go to Rail’s on-line pages and read the whole article.

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2 comments

  1. Thanks very much indeed for the link and complimentary words. They are very much appreciated. Emma Powney’s piece really sets this debacle in context and I shall be watching your blog for further comments by your readers. All the best to one and all for 2010.


    • Gosh. [Goes pink all over.] Thank YOU Nigel!



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