Trouble over rail fans’ antics

Oh dear, I’ve got into deep water over an article I did for The Mail on Sunday at the weekend about trouble on rail enthusiasts’ trains. I wrote that there had been a fight on one train inNovember which resulted in a man being escorted off by the BTP and then explained how followers of some classes of diesel locomotive have a bad reputation.

 The subject arose because it had been covered by Pip Dunn in Railways Illustrated and it seemed like a rather intriguing tale. Inevitably the Mail went a bit over the top in its presentation but the substance of the story is entirely accurate. However, it has elicited more irate emails than even when I once praised the Tories!

 What caused most anger was the picture of a bunch of Class 45 followers giving what looks like a Nazi salute at their favourite locomotive. In fact, they have assured me that this has nothing to do with politics, even though there is a Union Jack in the picture but is merely the rail enthusiasts’ traditional way of paying homage to their favourite loco and, worse, it was on a fundraiser for one of their number who was dying of cancer.

 Of course, I had nothing to do with the selection of the photo since that was done by the Mail subeditors but, that aside, I’ve got news for them: just as you can’t go around wearing swastikas, or making monkey chants at football matches, you can’t raise your hand in that way without appearing to endorse the BNP. If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, etc etc. If you put that picture on the internet, then that is what it will look like even if nothing like that was intended. End of story.

 As for the tale itself, well there is no doubt that there was an extremely unpleasant incident on a Class 40 hauled train in November about which I was actually pretty understated because I didn’t mention the groping of women and the generally lewd behaviour stretching over several hours. And there has been a string of other incidents. Several people have said on the various websites that they will no longer go on these trains because of the excessive drinking. I do accept, however, that this was nothing to do with Class 40 followers and that was made clear in the story.

 However, despite all the abuse I have received, if this story helps to ensure people behave well in future, it will have been worth running. And as for the lad who said that my face is eminently punchable, doesn’t that sort of behaviour suggest my story was, euh, on the ball?

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