The conversation has started. Press conferences block the route from one end to the other. A journalist crouches speaking live to her radio station. I push my way through to meet one of my hero’s - Mark Smith - founder of the website - the man in seat 61. This website is a fantastic source of information for travelling by rail across Europe.
I asked Mark - an Englishman - why he set up the web-site. He said, "When I travel to Europe I always take the train. Eurostar will tell you how to get to Paris or Brussels. But there is no information for Rome, Venice, Barcelona, so I thought if you want something done you should do it yourself, and started the web-site.
I wanted a site online that told you very simply how to book, what the trains are like, because they are different from their commuter trains to work, people don’t know what sleeper trains look like, how much it costs and were to buy tickets."
What started as a hobby has now become Marks full-time job. I asked him if there were similar sites for people in other parts of Europe or whether their rails systems gave enough information.
"With an increasingly fragmented booking system across Europe you often need to use two or even three web-sites for one journey. So people from many countries are using the web-site and we’re even considering setting up sites in the Nederlands and France."
Mark has found a niche helping people travel by train across networks who are so focussed on their national customers that they don’t consider the possibilities of trans-national travel. We hope his work encourages this to change.