I was at Eurotunnel for nearly three years, from 1992 to 1994, as a freelance consultant. I was fortunate in having a series of intelligent bosses. First was Bob Giffords, who was pursuing the integration of data across the whole company with religious zeal, and almost unintelligible erudition. I fell out with him in the end, for complex reasons, and obtained a transfer to the quality department, where I worked under Roger Nickless, whose urbanity, good humour and common sense carried us through. Then I applied to work with Jacques Rossi, who was in the process of building a company-wide Quality Directorate. Jacques had previously been the Director of Railways but had fallen out with someone or other and was shifted to Quality as a kind of punishment. But he had the enthusiasm to make something grand out of it, as well as great charm and personal qualities which are hard to describe but which I identified as Corsican, for he was from the same island as Napoleon Bonaparte. Other departments never took quality on board in the way we proposed and top management failed to give Jacques or his directorate, the backing he needed. Finally Jacques relinquished his post and Quality became part of Health, Safety and Quality, under Richard Morris, whom I never really got to know for he was an Englishman who kept much in reserve.. At the end of '94 there was a drive o get rid of all the consultants. Quite right too, as ET, as we used to call Eurotunnel, was ready to grow up and stand on its own two feet. Gone were the days when the only people trained enough to drive Le Shuttle were external consultants. I made enquiries about joining the company as a permanent employee, but it was far from home and they could not offer me enough salary to compensate for that.
I did achieve a few things whilst I was there. For a while the complaints system was my baby. The Eurotunnel service was newly started and things did not always run smoothly, so there were plenty of reasons to complain. But all the staff were wonderfully courteous and helpful. Passengers who complained were so impressed by the response that they became our most loyal customers. For the staff, it was a wonderful novelty to have real live passengers, after years in which the railway was still being built by another company (TML). The first passengers were staff; then shareholders were given a ride. Finally, we were ready to take on the public! A couple of years after I left, I sent back an ET souvenir watch to the Complaints Department and they were as courteous, efficient and reliable as they had ever been, and it made me feel proud to have helped in my small way to make it so.
Under the direction of Jacques, I became a Quality Manager, with my name on the door of my own office. Much of the time I could do what I liked. We were aiming for ISO9002 certification, and for the European Quality Management Award. Our policy at that time was Management by Walking Aroundt, which meant that we could go anywhere, do anything, so long as we upheld our Quality brief and did our bit to inspire departments with our ideals. In general, the other departments did not welcome the Quality Directorate, and found little use for our input - see the report of my visit to the Public Affairs department. But we kept ourselves busy none the less. At one time we had a budget which was large enough to plan fact-finding visits to other railways, other tunnels - such as the Hong Kong Mass Transit System. We started up Enterprise Groups, which amongst other things prepared presentations to be enacted on a stage in front of executives and dignitaries. I designed Perspex and resin-based trophies which were awarded to these groups, and for our Complaints Enterprise Group composed a little drame bilangue, whose script is reproduced on this site.