Taking Stock – Get off your train and drink your cocktails.

High Noon-loving former Railtrack chief Gerald Corbett threw his hard hat into the boardroom last week and was finally given the nod to alight.

Chartered accountant Corbett – ‘it’s a privilege to have a crack at the railway’ – got his showdown a month after being told to keep his badge to clear up after the Hatfield rail disaster and the death of four rail commuters.

Corbett lists his favourite movie as 1952 Western classic High Noon – the tale of a lone honor-bound chief abandoned by the townspeople he was sworn to protect.

Clearly, the story of a man who was too proud to run had a big impact on Corbett – but its poignant opening exchange seems to have exerted little influence on the tough guy.

Gang member: ‘Noon train on time?’

Station master: ‘Yes sir.’

Aptly named successor Steve Marshall is a former Grand Metropolitan colleague, which raises the question quite what it is about the finance department of the conglomerate’s international drinks division that has made it such a rich training ground to run a national rail network.

Corbett and his regime have come under flak for being more attuned with finance than engineering. One wonders whether they are more suited to shaking-up a cocktail than 20,000 miles of rail.

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