Robin Price, 47, Bristol Parkway station

Robin is a huge train enthusiast, so his new pitch at Bristol Parkway comes with many perks of the job

I’ve moved pitch from Weston-super-Mare to Bristol Parkway station and in the week I’ve been here so far it’s been brilliant to be honest. I sold 34 mags on Thursday rush hour, another 20 on Friday morning and Monday was really good as well, but obviously I had to find my feet a bit and wait for the magazines to be delivered. But that wasn’t a problem – I still made about £50 that day.

I used to struggle to sell 30 books a week in Weston. And that’s not Weston’s fault or my fault. That’s just Covid. I mean, it’s like that all over the country. None of us have got back to the sales we had before, but it is busy up here. I haven’t sold like this since I was back in London, which is pretty cool. The Big Issue are paying for my trains to get me to Bristol Parkway and it is quite a lot of money to get me up here. But if I had to do it myself I think I probably would do because the potential sales are there. In about 15 minutes on Monday I made enough to cover the season ticket, so if I can get the cash for that over and done with on the first day the rest of the week is pure profit.

I’m also a train enthusiast, so Bristol Parkway is a good fit. I’ve just been down the platform videoing a train go by. Perks of the job! Bristol Parkway is quite busy, with a lot of freight trains. I even know a lot of the staff here because my dad has done 50 years of railway service. With Weston-super-Mare being from the local Great Western Railway line, a lot of the drivers and the guards know me from when I was running up to the Bristol Big Issue office anyway. But I still have to pay for my tickets! It’s handy because they know about my anxiety and they know what I am and how to handle me a little bit. Sometimes I can get a bit uneasy if things take too long or if we should have been at a destination by now and I just want to get off.

Lots of people have asked me why I love trains and I can’t answer that question. I can’t put a finer point on it, I just like them. I guess I like the power they have, the awesome noise and the fact you can go from, say, Bristol to Edinburgh at five o’clock in the morning and be there by noon. I feel honoured that The Big Issue picked me for this pitch. I have enquired about other stations to see if they want to get up and running because this is only a trial period to see if I like it and if it works well. They could have picked anyone from Bristol to sell here, but they picked me, so that’s pretty cool.

I’ve been selling the magazine now for about 26 years and I used to pay about 60p for it back then, so things have changed a bit. I like selling the magazine, and the truth is that it’s easy. I can pick my own hours, I get paid every single day and I can come and go as I please as long as I abide by the rules and the code of conduct.

To be honest, even if anyone at the station like Upper Crust or Costa or even GWR themselves offered me a job I’d have to think about saying no to remain selling The Big Issue. But it is a new challenge here. I’m from Weston originally and ran away to London when I was younger but when I moved back to Weston to sell the magazine it was, shall we say, a bit of a retirement or a bit of a slowdown. But now I’ve got to go back to commuting and doing the old octopus arms. Weston is so different, so it feels weird to be here, but I’m not moaning at all. 

Interview: Liam Geraghty

Bristol Parkway Railway Station, Parkway, Stoke Gifford, Bristol, UK

The Big Issue

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