Southern Railway has announced a bold plan to put a person on the Moon by 2015, while warning that engineering works and unforeseen atmospheric conditions could delay arrival by a year or so.
Service Delivery Director James Burt said the idea had come after a colleague had collated data on the number of newspapers left on trains every day and worked out how many times they would go round the world. ‘It’s the sort of thing anyone might spend time on if they’re not too busy,’ he said. ‘Anyway, we got to thinking that if you piled up all the discarded copies of the Metro and Evening Standard instead of laying them end to end, you could soon build a very high tower indeed.’
The plan involves an employee standing on the top of the pile while bundles of newspapers and essential supplies are delivered by a rope which goes over the top and is pulled down from the other side. The successful candidate, Wendy Sanders of Carshalton, a complaints handler and mother of three, was chosen for her low weight and ability to do a repetitive job without complaining.
‘We appreciate that the plan involves an ever-increasing amount of rope, but we will be using old rope and our shareholders are used to this kind of funding proposal,’ said Mr Burt. ‘Actually our biggest challenge is competition from the Financial Services Authority, who are on a similar quest using their output of compliance manuals and consultation papers.’
Eventually it is intended that the pile will become so high that the gravitational pull of the Moon takes over and Ms Sanders floats gently down to its surface. Asked about what plans there were to bring her back, Mr Burt said Wendy should have planned ahead and bought a ticket before travelling, and that she would now have to pay the full cost of the return trip. ‘It’s too late now I’m afraid. I’m sure someone will make an announcement to keep her informed, in the usual way.’