At privatisation Tom Greaves and one or two other colleagues realised that the new operating companies, to say nothing of Railtrack, would be desperately in need of help in some of the operating fields. Together with a software expert, they got together and formed a company called Comreco. This organisation was extremely successful in persuading numerous train operating companies that they could help them solve many of their day to day and medium term planning operational issues. They also gained a major contract with Railtrack in connection with train planning and on the back of that they obtained a similar contract with the Indian State Railway.
The Indian State Railway contract went very well indeed until, without any warning, they stopped paying the monthly account. (The contract was based on stage payments related to monthly periods.) The company continued working for a number of months without receiving any payments but they got to a stage where they were in danger of running out of money. A Board meeting decided that it was essential to send a representative out to India to see what could be done to identify what was holding up the payments and to obtain the release of the monies owed. Tom booked an overnight flight and arrived in Delhi early in the morning ready to start his pursuit of the outstanding payments. After a long day of visiting Ministries and railway offices, he finally returned to the airport to check in for his overnight flight home empty handed. He was desolate to say the least.
A photograph of Tom Greaves with the author". Tom is stood on the engine in the boiler suit.
Having checked in he was sat in the boarding lounge when a message came over the tannoy to go to the desk. With an even heavier heart he responded to the message expecting to be bumped. This was where his luck changed: the young lady at the desk apologised profusely and said that she hoped Mr Greaves would not object to being upgraded to first class. Knowing Tom, as I do, I am sure he made a ritual protest but accepted the offer with good grace.
He boarded the plane and was mulling things over when a charming Indian lady of a certain age came and sat in the seat next to him. They got talking in the course of the flight and Tom discovered that this lady was the daughter of the Indian Government’s Finance Minister. Tom saw his opportunity and explained his problem to be told by the lady that she would most certainly look into it. Two days later the outstanding monies were received in the company’s bank account and several days after that, an invitation arrived from the Indian Embassy in Paris for Tom and his wife to attend a diplomatic reception.
A day trip to Delhi with handsome returns.
By Donald Heath.
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