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The Train Operator's Guide to Getting Students Drunk in a Brewery  

1) Green Energy - How to not use it
2) Railways - History and Future
3) A Silly Story
4) Cinderella
5) Croess
6) The House
7) How to Control Your Government
8) After Expenses: Is it time to abolish the House of Commons?
9) Say "Yes" to the EU
10) Dihydrogen Monoxide - An Appeal
11) The Train Operator's Guide to Getting Students Drunk in a Brewery
12) The Well
Department of Comment, Satire & Tripe
Department of Railed Transport

Due to the number of allegations over the years that the 19 Train Operating Companies (TOCs) in this country are completely useless and can't run a rail service and how hard can it be?! we have decided to provide details of a recent highly successful event, operated by a group hereinafter referred to as Greenway Trains (with assistance from TOCs Y and Z, infrastructure company NR, rolling stock owner 1, two Government departments, three consultancy firms, twenty-three quangos and the European Commission), aiming to get a large quantity of students drunk in a brewery.

  1. The initial idea to do the general organisation and subsequently transport a group of students to a local brewery for a booze-up one Friday night emerged in December 2004 on Greenway Trains's predecessor, DUTC Trains, who were told by Consultancy Group 1 that it would be a good way of integrating into the local community. DUTC Trains (the acronym was variously held to stand for Don't Use The Car, Do Use The Car and Doesn't Understand This Country; the parent company claimed that it could stand for whatever the reader wanted) considered that the idea had excellent prospects for development and suggested it during a consultation meeting with the Students' Union at the University College of Arts and Literature School.
  2. The Students' Union discussed the idea, but it subsequently slipped down the list of priorities due to the imminent university-wide election for the Union's twelve leading executive posts.
  3. An unusually controversial election campaign was followed by a meeting between the Students' Union and leading School Societies to discuss the prospect of pooling resources for making the necessary arrangements to organise minibuses or coaches to transport students to the event, which was to be held at a brewery adjacent to a station two stops down the railway line which served the University Campus.
  4. The School Societies then completed their exams and underwent the annual elections for a total of 135 posts with a total of 156 candidates.
  5. With the elections and subsequent fall-out completed, the Societies individually discussed the event and came up with 37 mutually exclusive requirements.
  6. The Societies and the Students' Union re-met and formulated a coherent agreement for the organisation of the event, which was then passed to DUTC Trains.
  7. Unfortunately the relevant manager at DUTC Trains had taken up a considerably more relaxing job running a major international airline and new contacts had to be established with his two replacements.
  8. Summer 2005 then intervened and the scheme was put on the backburner until the Autumn.
  9. It was suggested that the event would best be held as a University-wide Christmas event that December.
  10. The brewery was contacted but pointed out that December would be their busy time.
  11. DUTC Trains was unable to discuss possible events during Spring 2006 due to it being engaged in the run-up to re-franchising.
  12. In May 2006 the parent company of DUTC Trains was disqualified during pre-qualification for the new restructed Regional Suburban County franchise. Management restructuring at the top of DUTC Trains followed with several managers moving elsewhere within the parent company and the remaining good ones obtaining highly-paid jobs in quangos, the RAC Foundation and running the Anglian Monasteries Research Organisation. The remaining managers were too uncertain about their jobs to engage in discussions with students.
  13. In October 2006 the franchise was awarded to Greenway Trains. The new franchisee was too busy employing new managers (from various quangos, the RAC Foundation and the Anglian Monasteries Research Organisation) to engage with the local student body.
  14. Greenway Trains took over the franchise on 1st March 2007, shortly after the Students' Union completed its annual elections.
  15. After exams were completed, discussions began with Greenway Trains about holding the event that July.
  16. Greenway Trains promised to lay on a special train.
  17. NR told Greenway Trains that they were notified of the plans to operate three Sprinters along the line in multiple on a special less than 12 weeks in advance and as a result it would be not be possible to organise the working.
  18. Greenway Trains explained the situation to the Students' Union. When it was pointed out that Sprinters operated the overwhelming majority of services along the route, it was explained that tests had to be carried out to confirm that the resultant 120metre-long train would fit into the 150-yard long platforms. Extensive arrangements would also have to be made to fit this one-off service into the half-hourly stopping service along the double-track railway, which was signalled to take eight trains each way per hour. Consultancy Group 2 would have to advise of any possible unforeseeable issues. It was added that the cost of ensuring that the special could be accomodated would be in excess of a million pounds and it would be necessary for the Students' Union to make a substantial contribution to this expense, which would be avoidable were it not for the tour.
  19. The Students' Union pointed out that it was being charged nearly a million pounds to run a return trip two stops down the line.
  20. Greenway Trains said that they had not realised that it was to be a return trip and that their understanding was that it was to be a one-way tour with the students making their own way home. It was, they said, therefore necessary to measure the platforms on the other side of the line as well to ensure compliance.
  21. It was emphasised that if the return service was after 23:00 hours the driver would have to be paid extra for the cost of him staying up late.
  22. The Students' Union returned that it was not possible to have a decent drunken orgy which finished before 23:00 hours.
  23. Greenway Trains withdrew their offer of reduced-price transport, citing the safety issues of carrying intoxicated students and their policy ban on alcohol on trains after 19:00 hours.
  24. The Students' Union arranged alternative return transport with Local Bus N, who agreed to supply three buses on a date to be fixed, and continued negotiation with Greenway Trains, who were the people with the contact in the brewery and who were still keen to sponsor the event.
  25. At the beginning of July 2007 these negotiations were interrupted by the end of term and the start of the Summer holidays.
  26. In August 2007 Greenway Trains announced that the first stage of their modernisation and capacity increase work would begin with the December 2007 timetable change, when roughly a quarter of their fleet would be returned to rolling stock owner 1 and placed into warm store at a nearby derelict train depot.
  27. In September 2007 the Students' Union recommenced negotiations with Greenway Trains in the hope that the TOC would be able to organise something with regard to getting a bunch of students drunk in a brewery. Being confused by the story of what had gone before and therefore puzzled as to why a train operator was organising the event but a bus company was due to get them there, the new officers of the Union asked Greenway Trains to look at the logistics of running the special train again.
  28. It transpired that NR had carried out the necessary infrastructure tests and had found that the platform on the other side of the line at one of the stations at which the train was not expected to stop was only 125metres long, preventing it from accomodating a 120-metre long train.
  29. It was pointed out that since the platform was on the other side of the line and the train wasn't stopping there anyway this was of somewhat academic interest.
  30. NR explained that under European Directive 2002/657, as interpreted by Quango G, Quango K and Quango T, with the interpretations being harmonised by Quango V, it was essential that all platforms at any station which a train which might be due to pass through during its journey should be long enough to accommodate said train in case it needed to be diverted into said platform in an emergency.
  31. Queries were made as to how the train was supposed to get into the platform, given that the nearest crossover between the lines was three miles away in the opposite direction.
  32. NR said that they didn't write European law.
  33. When quizzed, the European Commission denied having ever written, accepted or intended such a definition for any of their directives. They said that it purely meant that if a train was booked to stop at a platform shorter than it was then there should be a risk assessment performed first, unless it was reasonable not to do so - for example, with one-off services featuring trains with doors with locks.
  34. The Students' Union, after investigating the details of Sprinters with the assistance of their resident trainspotter, pointed out to NR that the proposed train complied entirely with the European directive.
  35. NR said that it was of paramount importance that European safety law should be interpreted strictly, and accused the students of encouraging "the sort of lax standards which would prompt a repeat of Ladbroke Grove". Suggestions that the unfortunate Ladbroke Grove accident had nothing to do with platform lengths, the nearest National Rail station platform to the accident being two miles away, were met with the response that safety principles had to be upheld and imposed equally, as stated by Quango B.
  36. Quango B denied having ever said any such thing.
  37. The Students' Union decided to throw in the towel at this point, inspired by a passing quote from their resident trainspotter about the First Law of Roger Ford's Informed Sources, "Never assume railways are rational organisations".
  38. However, after a further discussion with Greenway Trains, it was agreed that they could travel on service trains before 19:00 hours to the brewery, which would be prepared for them by Greenway Trains. A date was set for the 19th of March 2008 as a nice send-off for everyone before the Easter holidays.
  39. The Winter 2007-8 Timetable came into force on Sunday 9th December 2007 and Greenway Trains sent the relevant quarter of their fleet off-lease, returning them to rolling stock owner 1, who placed them into store.
  40. Much to the surprise of Greenway Trains and the Department for Transport, the result was that around a quarter of their trains had to be cancelled.
  41. On the 22nd of December, about half an hour after Greenway Trains's public relations teams had knocked off for the Christmas holidays, the Department for Transport issued an enforcement notice demanding that Greenway Trains do something about the collapse of the service which they agreed with the Department for Transport that they were going to provide with a fleet which was to ultimately be slightly smaller than the one that they were by this stage operating. It was an enforcement notice which was about as comprehensible as that sentence, except the words used were longer.
  42. On the 6th of January 2008 Greenway Trains issued an apologetic notice and blamed the Department for Transport.
  43. On the 9th of January, the Department for Transport denied all knowledge and blamed everyone else.
  44. On the 10th of January, the Department for Transport settled long-running overcrowding problems on three other franchises by overseeing the signing of a deal between said franchises and rolling stock owner 1, thereby tidying up a large fleet of trains in DUTC's pink and orange livery and carrying Greenway Trains branding which were sat looking lost in a derelict train depot.
  45. On the 13th of January, the Department for Transport officially stated that they had no spare trains to help with Greenway Trains's overcrowding problems, recommended that Greenway Trains should buy some more trains off rolling stock owner 2 and added that they hoped that Greenway Trains would still be able to meet their first payment to the Government for permission to run trains, which was due in three weeks.
  46. On the 15th of January, Greenway Trains asked where they were supposed to get the money for new trains from.
  47. The Department for Transport recommended that they raise fares and invite rolling stock owner 2 to spend the money and charge a high lease for the trains.
  48. On the 17th of January, the Department for Transport, after lengthy discussions with Consultancy Group 3 and Quango M, referred all the rolling stock owners it could find to the Competition Commission for charging high leases for trains.
  49. On the 18th of January, rolling stock owner 2 said that the market was too unstable and refused to take the deal.
  50. On the 19th of January Local Bus N went to the wall after being undercut by National Bus S, leaving the students without a friendly bus company.
  51. National Bus S said that it was unfortunately unable to take over Local Bus N's obligations, not having any suitable buses, but referred the students to its TOC Y.
  52. TOC Y said that it didn't operate trains around the Regional Suburban County franchise area and so didn't have drivers with route knowledge. None of the drivers in the Regional Suburban County franchise area could drive its trains and it didn't have anything spare anyway. It referred them back to Greenway Trains
  53. Greenway Trains referred them to their Public Relations Department.
  54. The Public Relations Deparment referred them to the Operating Department.
  55. The Operating Department told them that they would have to speak to NR's Operating Department.
  56. NR's Operating Department said that it didn't handle anything to do with the general public and referred them to its Public Relations Department
  57. The Public Relations Department said that it only dealt with route upgrades and the aftermath of fatal accidents. It suggested that they return to Greenway Trains's Public Relations Department
  58. Greenway Trains explained that it did not have sufficient stock available to operate such services and referred them to Spot Hire Co 1, saying that if the students found a train Greenway Trains would help with the logistics.
  59. Spot Hire Co 1 said that its trains were Route Availability 5 and only trains of up to Route Availability 4 were allowed on that route. It referred them to Spot Hire Co 2.
  60. Spot Hire Co 2 said it would consider it.
  61. Four days later, on the 31st of January, Spot Hire Co 2 offered a very generous deal which was marginally less than hiring a bus, so the students accepted.
  62. On the 3rd of February Spot Hire Co 2 was declared bankrupt in the Court of Chancery due to a failure to pay its 2005 tax bill.
  63. On the 4th of February the students found a railway news web forum, where they were told in no uncertain terms that they were stupid and should have known that Spot Hire Co 2 had been under scrutiny (in certain specialist railway circles) for donkey's years.
  64. However, the students were eventually referred to Spot Hire Co 3, which had a train which might be able to work the service.
  65. Unfortunately it was out of use pending the installation of central door locking.
  66. On the 12th of February the Students' Union swung back into election mode with various promises being made by candidates to break the deadlock with a variety of original ideas.
  67. All of which were subsequently suggested to Greenway Trains after the election, only to be flatly rejected.
  68. Greenway Trains eventually broke the deadlock by finding, through various contacts via one of its parent companies, a tour company which owned some coaches which the railway company could use to transport its intending passengers by road.
  69. The students then asked Greenway Trains to help with arranging the brewery.
  70. Greenway Trains said that it had found them transport, which hadn't been part of the deal, and sent them an invoice for work done.
  71. Rather predictably, the tour company then went to the wall.
  72. Greenway Trains, after much haggling, agreed to find an additional unit to couple to the back of the regular train.
  73. However, it was now too late to organise this within the remaining eight weeks of the summer term and so the event was put back until the autumn.
  74. The brewery pointed out that the proposed end of term date was still their busy time and suggested putting it back by a term.
  75. Thus 27th March 2009 was selected for the official trip out to the brewery.
  76. The railway paperwork was filled out, haggled over, recompleted and organised
  77. The manager of the brewery said that as long as a corporate event didn't clash with their busy time he was happy to help in any way possible.
  78. Greenway Trains arranged to sponsor the event and the students who were helping to arrange things found themselves being expected to wear T-shirts with Sprinter units and the operator's branding on the front.
  79. A stock shortage at a critical moment, caused by a freight locomotive splitting the points at the local train depot the previous morning as it popped in for some fuel, thereby blocking eight units in the shed, meant that the students had to cram into a short-formed peak-hour service for the trip down the line on the evening of the 27th.
  80. The train was delayed by a central door locking fault, which was then followed by acceleration problems brought on by overloading, which in turn prompted it to overheat and have to stop for a drink one stop from the students' destination.
  81. Having got the students to their destination 90 minutes behind schedule and with a journey time an hour longer than if they'd walked, Greenway Trains's on-the-spot manager explained that it was unreasonable for the company to run the return service 90 minutes later because the disruption was the fault of the freight operator or the infrastructure owner. Neither of these companies had any relation to Greenway Trains and so it would carry on as though nothing had happened.
  82. The students piled into the brewery only to find that the bar had closed for a stock check.
  83. Once the bar re-opened it turned out that there were inadequate toilets.
  84. The beer was also highly priced. Greenway Trains's manager explained that this was what they would charge for beer on the intercity route owned by their parent company. Arguments that the beer was in that case being sold to regular rail passengers from a vehicle which had to pay its way, whereas this beer was being sold on a special night out to students, were rejected.
  85. Instead, it was pointed out that this was a peak period and since inadequate staff were available for the bar to meet the demand Greenway Trains had to reduce the demand without compromising product quality.
  86. The bar closed at the booked time - somewhat earlier than anyone had realised, with the disgruntled students being told that there was no objection to them remaining on the premises for another hour or so, just they couldn't buy any booze.
  87. The brewery then evicted them onto the station platform, where it soon began to be rumoured that their train was going to be late. Nobody knew how late and the station staff had long since gone home, turning off the display screens.
  88. Fortunately none of the students had managed to get drunk during the time between their arrival and the closure of the bar, so behaviour was, all things considered, rather good.
  89. The train back was eventually replaced by a bus for no particularly obvious reason other than a possible concern about damage to the train and some vague comment about stock shortages.
  90. Greenway Trains then congratulated itself on successfully transporting some students. It was suitably awarded for its initiative in continuing with the tour despite the disruption. After much wrangling, it provided the students with travel vouchers with Greenway Trains to compensate for the delay.
  91. Greenway Trains is now promising passengers service improvements as soon as the new Government gets out the chequebook and pays a rolling stock owner to order Greenway Trains some new stock.


Have you seen one of these trains sat in a field doing nothing? Well, after your local franchise has next been re-awarded the franchise holder may want to use it. Unfortunately for them you may be looking for a spare example of the humble Sprinter for a very long time - there were two "spare" but they were non-standard prototypes which were scrapped in 2004 and which operators would now be falling over each other to lease.

Greenway Trains and DUTC Trains are largely fictional; certainly neither name has ever been used by a real TOC. However, certain instances in this story may have some relation to certain interpretations of historical happenings. Any such instances should be regarded as mere coincidence. It is quite certainly utterly impossible for any railway anywhere in the world to manage such customer service or efficiency as that described above.

The references to student bodies come from an uninitated student who would not like to plead to any prior involvement in trying to organise such bodies.

We hope this guide proves useful to any other train operators attempting to get students drunk in a brewery. 

Last modified 18/03/11

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