Monday, December 21, 2009

Eurostar Disaster

You absolutely must watch: The Chief Executive of Eurostar skewering himself on BBC News.

It's a truly awful performance. You've trapped thousands of terrified people in darkness for 15 freezing hours with no light, water, food, toilets or explanation. Your only approach is to utterly and completely apologise and then lock youself overnight in an unlit oven awash with baby vomit and the shit of strangers. And then apologise again.

Or, if you're Richard Brown, the hapless Eurostar head being thrown to the dogs you...
  • Make a fumbling apology with all the sincerity of "your call is important to us".
  • Weasel-shift the blame onto Eurotunnel.
  • Insist "We were well prepared, but... ah..." in the face of the evidence.
  • When told passengers heard a driver sobbing to look appalled.
  • When asked about compensation, loftily announce "That's what travel insurance is for".
  • Accidentally imply that the service has utterly collapsed.
  • And make the wonderful slip "When we re-doom service, er, resume..."

It's compelling television career suicide, a unique perfomance blending lofty disdain with "is-he-going-to-throw-up-from-fear?". There are times to abandon your careful media training and go for transparent honesty. Especially when you've clearly screwed up massively and are obviously as ill-at-ease as a cabinet minister caught nuts deep in a rent boy live on the GMTV sofa.

I've spent two years being smug that I live 200 yards from the Eurostar. It's massively improved the area and was, until the weekend, one of the loveliest trains ever not made out of Lego. But right now, it's something to be utterly ashamed of.

UPDATE: A fascinating post from Eurostar's social networking agency which explains that the company were ony really interested in things like Twitter for sales and marketing. Oh dear... Includes a "Hostage Execution" style video interview with Richard Brown.

Also some really horrible stories and analysis from the ground here.

I noticed that Mr Brown had been retired as a talking head by the time of the one o'clock news - after Eurotunnel published a press release saying "Don't try blaming this on us sunshine". Sadly, Brown is now back talking about "improving the winterisation of our train sets".


Eurostar said...

I fully agree, the interview is appalling. They don't seem to have a good PR agency at all.

My comments:

JahTeh said...

If they can dig a tunnel to France and back, why couldn't they plan for a cock-up like this? How hard would it be to have a small back up generator for lighting at least?

Mind you, we have just traded an inept Connex operator for an unknown quantity in a French company who will probably say they will try to improve the summerisation of our crappy trains when they have to cancel after all the tracks buckle in the heat.

And they've spent a zillion re-painting the train carriages when they could have sent out a message to every can wielding graffiti 'artiste' in Melbourne who would have done it for free.

And just to top off this blog post, I found the ideal Christmas present for you, a gingerbread Tardis with a gingerbread K9. Personally I rather gnaw on a gingerbread David Tennant.

Skip said...

a gingerbread TARDIS? oh how wonderful!

i adore the idea of a French company trying to run Australian trains!

PS: I also love that Australia's big train depot is named after an English suburb - Sydenham, isn't it?