October 13, 2008 / 8:48 AM / 10 years ago

No "falling commuter" for Eurostar terminal frieze

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Part of a frieze commissioned for the refurbished 19th century London train station that houses the Eurostar terminal will be changed to remove a scene showing a commuter falling in front of a train.

Artist Paul Day’s frieze surrounding his “Meeting Place” sculpture at St. Pancras station is intended to capture heroic and tragic scenes of railway life, from British soldiers leaving for war to engineers laying tracks.

Part of the frieze went on display in clay on Friday before the final bronze version is completed, but having seen the commuter scene London & Continental Railways (L&CR) chief executive Rob Holden deemed it “completely unsuitable.”

“That part of the frieze will not go ahead,” an L&CR spokesman said.

Train drivers’ union ASLEF, which was also unhappy over the frieze, said its members had to deal with about 200 attempted suicides each year.

“We don’t think it’s particularly appropriate for those of us who have dealt with people involved in that sort of incident,” ASLEF’s Mick Whelan told the BBC.

“I’ve seen train drivers who have been involved in some sort of fatality never working again.”

Day said he regretted any offence.

“Rather than depicting suicide, it’s depicting the fear that drivers face,” he added. “I’d hope an image like this could have drawn the public to respect and admire that particular job and my intention was that it would be in good taste.”

The “Meeting Place” sculpture of a couple kissing, and the frieze, which is due to be completed by the middle of 2009, is worth 500,000 pounds ($864,200), but the L&CR spokesman said Day would be allowed to finish it.

“We’ve been very pleased with his work and the sculpture has gone down very well,” added the spokesman.

Eurostar trains depart St. Pancras for and arrive from Paris, Brussels and other places on the European continent.

Reporting by John Joseph; Editing by Steve Addison and Paul Casciato

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