Police were called to Crewe railway station today when shareholders of the former Railtrack organisation, angered by the manner in which the company was forced into receivership, began taking back pieces of track they claimed as their own.
"ST 44156A, six degree curvature complete with sixteen sleepers is my bit," said shareholder Bob Bucket as he set his lump hammer to a piece of track. "And I'm here to take it back."
Mother of twelve, Mrs Alma Oftenduffed was equally determined. Speaking as her sons were busy making off with a signal box, she said: "I got my shares when my husband Norman was hit by the London to Glasgow express. They said it was in compensation for sending me my Norman back in a Tesco's carrier bag. And now my shares have been cruelly taken too. Just like my Norman, and I can never shop at Tesco's again without thinking of my Railtrack shares. Imagine that. Sobbing, I was; sobbing in the jams and preservatives aisle."
Station Master Mr Ivor Late-Excuse was less sympathetic to the shareholders' cause. "They put their money in and they knew the risks," he said. "There's no guarantees. Just like when you buy a ticket to travel."
Transport minister, Stephen Byers, was quick to condemn the shareholders' actions. "It's very irresponsible to remove pieces of track - a train might crash if you pull the rails from under it, especially if the news of the missing track took the driver by surprise. Not that we in the Transport Ministry know of any surprises regarding Railtrack. Well, not many - none worth resigning over."
But the last word belongs to Mr Bucket. "Our plan is to take enough track and train bits to make our own railway. People may say we're barmy. But it'll be hard to be any more of a loon than Stephen Byers, eh? And if Richard Branson can run a railway so can we."
Richard Branson was delayed at Birmingham Central and so unavailable for comment.