Award-winning British film-maker Ken Loach has contributed to three-part movie drama Tickets.
By Neil Smith
BBC News entertainment reporter
In 2001 Loach directed The Navigators, a one-off TV drama about the privatisation of British Rail and the job losses and cutbacks that ensued.
Ken Loach's films include Kes, Ae Fond Kiss and My Name is Joe
This month sees him return to the railways, albeit in a rather different capacity.
In Tickets, the veteran film-maker directs one of three interlocking stories set on the same Rome-bound train.
As usual, Loach tackles serious issues - in this case, the plight of illegal immigrants from Eastern Europe and the persecution and hostility they often face in the West.
The film started when Iranian film-maker Abbas Kiarostami suggested producing a trilogy of feature-length documentaries by three different directors.
Kiarostami approached Loach and Italy's Ermanno Olmi, who suggested making it a fictional movie instead.
"We got together a couple of times and the idea of a train journey linking the stories came up," Loach told the BBC News website.
"We tried to make connections between the stories, with characters appearing in more than one.
"Inevitably people do what they were going to do anyway, but it was a very friendly co-operation and we enjoyed each other's company."
Fans of Loach's work will recognise the heroes of his episode, who are played by a trio of young Scottish actors who appeared in his 2002 film Sweet Sixteen.
Loach directs Tickets with Abbas Kiarostami (l) and Ermanno Olmi (r)
"They're not playing the same characters obviously, but when we were planning the story those three lads fit the bill."
The story, written by Loach's regular collaborator Paul Laverty, tells of a group of Celtic fans whose journey to a Champions League match hits the buffers when a young stowaway steals one of their tickets.
The theft brings them into contact with an Albanian family making a perilous trip across the continent.
"It's about three football supporters who are drawn into a real life-and-death situation involving people from a similar social class," said Loach.
"They could be the equivalents of their mothers or sisters or brothers, caught in a situation that is pretty desperate.
"It's a very human dilemma - the struggle between getting involved and not getting involved," he continued.
"But it's not a message film, despite some of the ideas that are kicking around underneath."
The plot sounds simple, but getting the multinational production made on the tightest of budgets was anything but.
"Planning and Italian film-making are mutually exclusive concepts," Loach remarks wryly.
"But once we got the train journey worked out it wasn't so bad and the shooting was fairly straightforward.
Loach's segment reunites him with actors from Sweet Sixteen
"We set our story in second class, while the other two wisely put theirs in first class," he continues.
"There was no air conditioning where we were, so we sweltered for eight days."
Tickets marks a change of pace following Loach's recent pictures, which include Spanish Civil War drama Land and Freedom and Bread and Roses, his first film to be shot in America.
His next project, The Wind that Shakes the Barley, is no less ambitious, being set during the time of the Irish War of Independence and the Civil War that followed.
"It was a pivotal event for Britain and for Ireland, the story of which we've largely forgotten, " he says.
"It's set in the past and it's about a war, so it is bound to have some similarities with Land and Freedom. But we're in the thick of it at the moment so I daren't say too much."
Tickets is due to open in the UK on 2 December.