Queen and Meatloaf tunes amuse train passengers to Cardiff

1 week ago 17
Media caption,

Chris Edwards belts out station information to the tune of well-known songs

By Catriona Aitken

BBC News

There are many things train passengers expect when arriving at their destination - Queen's We Are The Champions is probably not one of them.

Commuters in Wales are being serenaded by onboard announcements to the tune of some of pop music's biggest hits.

Singing conductor Chris Edwards, 61, has a repertoire of 200 tunes that he has combined with important messaging.

He jokes he needs an oxygen tank to pull off Meatloaf, but admits he would not have a clue about Beyoncé's music.

It all started eight years ago, as he said: "I was travelling on a train between Swansea and Cardiff and there were two conductors on board.

"So I told my colleague he could go out and do the revenue and I would do the doors and the announcements.

"He said 'Ok, as long as you don't sing them!'"

It was a challenge he gleefully accepted and The Who's My Generation was the first song to make it into his repertoire.

Passengers on Transport for Wales' South Wales Mainline are now regularly entertained, and Mr Edwards even has requests.

He added: "We don't know anything about [our passengers]. They might be grieving, or have issues with loneliness.

"Smiles are infectious. I have had people tell me they have had a really rotten day and I cheered them up.

"It's worth more than gold."

He said he loved hearing people remarking on his singing as he walked through the carriage.

Image source, Chris Edwards

Image caption,

Chris Edwards has been singing announcements as a train conductor for the past eight years

"Before you know it, they have engaged in a dying art called conversation," he said.

"The more conversations you can get and the less social media, the better I think."

While his catalogue includes tunes from the 1960s to 1990s, he admits there are a number of artists that are off limits.

"I can't do anything more modern, I'm far too old and grey," he said.

"If people ask me to do Jay-Z I say 'is that the stuff you clean the bath with?', and when it comes to Beyoncé, I don't have a clue.

"The truth is, I have a big file of sheets with all the words on."

And lyrics are not the only challenge, with some of the notes needed not always easily achieved.

"I do a Meat Loaf, Bat Out Of Hell one, and I need oxygen tanks in the back carriage for that," he added.

When asked if he had a favourite, he said: "I have always enjoyed the ones I do to Queen - We Are The Champions is a long-time favourite of mine."

Mr Edwards has been working for Transport for Wales for 20 years, having been employed in banking for 25 years before that.

He said he will keep singing until he retires, and has even inspired colleagues and conductors further afield to add some music to their announcements.

"I occasionally look at social media and I see people around the country of a similar ilk," he said.

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