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I’ve been with TransPennine Express since 2009. I joined as a Graduate Engineer under the ATOC EMPD scheme. After completing various industry placements (across many different departments/disciplines) as a Graduate Engineer I was successful in my application for the Class 170 Fleet Engineer role. In that role I spent 5 years managing the Class 170 fleet predominantly from a safety and technical performance perspective, understanding the root cause of anything that the Fleet presented as a challenge to the business, and putting forward ways of overcoming those issues. A couple of initiatives that I’m particularly proud of are; justifying a safety improvement which involved adding a sand level monitoring system to the Class 170s, and demonstrating a value-for-money performance improvement to switch to a more reliable electric windscreen wiper system. After the Fleet Engineer role, I was delighted to get the role of New Train Project Manager for the Nova 3 Fleet, which I’ve been working hard in since December 2015.
After completing A-Levels at Wigan & Leigh College, I studied for a Masters in Mechanical Engineering with Management at The University of Manchester, alongside student-type jobs in bars, restaurants and even counting cash for large department stores and supermarkets.
One of the reasons I enjoy my role is that there is no typical day per se! As an Engineering Project Manager, a big part of the role can be summarised as identifying all the things that require understanding and solving. To understand the resources available, monitoring solution progression and priorities (and make appropriate tweaks).
Being part of a team delivering a set of complex, multifaceted projects in relatively short timescales, and (more personally) managing the introduction of assets that will carry millions upon millions of customers all over the UK throughout its lifetime. I’ll be able to see the Nova 3 Fleet in service in 20 years and say that I devoted 4-5 years of my life making it happen.
When things aren’t perfect. One personal character trait that I constantly battle with is identifying when not quite right is good enough.
7.08am on Saturday 24th August 2019 at Lea Green station when I stepped onboard TP09 with my family for the first Nova 3 passenger service after working late all night to ensure all onboard systems were working.
I’d like to manage another large engineering project and/or a team who are managing large engineering projects (be that from a TOC/ROSCO/industry supplier), and eventually move into a more strategic/directorate role within a TOC/ROSCO/rail industry supplier business.
The most basic advice I’d give is:
1. Always give your best (even if your best today isn’t as good as your best yesterday, because that’s just life)
2. Try to immerse yourself in the problems and challenges that need understanding/solving by getting out and about and involved in witnessing the issues first-hand (as ultimately this will aid understanding, which is really key to identifying solutions)
3. Try to identify and be honest about when your best isn’t good enough (because sometimes it won’t be); ask for help when you need it!
The whole process of introducing a new train fleet from a design concept on a piece of paper to it rolling into Lea Green station carrying its first passengers. The process is complex and involves so many different parties, more than I ever imagined.
I like to exercise a lot outside work and believe there’s a definite link between physical and mental fitness (even though I’m not exactly a flawless model of human health). I find exercise allows me the headspace to assess and reassess priorities and consider/evaluate alternative points of view on certain challenges.
Linking into the keeping fit theme, I’ve been involved in amateur motorcycle racing for the past 5 years and have collected 18 trophies for various podium positions in different racing classes. Most recently my racing team competed in the National No Limits Endurance Championship and finished 3rd, 2nd and 2nd over the past 3 years. Typical races are 4 hours long, but the longest we’ve competed in was a 10 hour on the Island of Anglesey. Over the 5 years of racing, I’ve crashed 32 times, mainly during practice and qualifying.
Favourite Nova? Nova 3 - hands down, for obvious reasons
Favourite train station? Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch - which I can pronounce. My mum offered me £5 to learn how when I was 6 years old.
Your favourite city in the North? Manchester - it's the capital of the Universe.
Best holiday destination? New Zealand.
Podcast or book? Book.
What song can you listen to on repeat? Pink Floyd - Wish You Were Here.
Favourite artist of all time? Coheed & Cambria.
A film you could watch over and over? Pulp Fiction or Shawshank Redemption.
What’s your guilty pleasure? 20 Lambert & a pint of Punk IPA.
I started with TransPennine Express when it commenced on day one in February 2004. I started out as a Conductor Instructor after being TUPE from First North Western. I then went on to become the Train Service Manager of Conductors at Barrow-in-Furness and Blackpool North depots jointly. I then became On Board Service Manager at Manchester Piccadilly’s Conductor Depot. I’ve been in my current role as Area Manager/Head of On Board Services for Conductors on the West Coast for the past 11 years.
Before joining the railway, I was an estimator within the carpet industry - the nice chap who would come round to your home to measure your hall, stairs or landing and tell you how wonderful your house is, give you a price to complete the work and hopefully walk away with the deposit.
I’m up early and the first thing I do is check my emails on current performance and look to see if there have been any issues overnight. Then off to one of my depots to check in with my management team there and discuss a multitude of things and generate agreed actions and plans. Touch base with colleagues on train and respond to even more emails and requests I get daily about all sorts of things. Then maybe fill out a spreadsheet or two along the way.
This role never has 2 days the same and I like nothing more than formulating solutions to problems and being involved in a good project, like creating a new plan for the introduction of a new route or traction into the business. Sounds crazy but when things aren’t going to plan, there’s no better feeling than being on the front line helping our customers get to where they need to be.
People that are here just for the ride and don’t want to make a difference or be part of the legacy. Or when a light bulb blows, and you don’t have a spare one in the house to replace it!
I have had several but one that I have fond memories of was the integration of the Anglo-Scottish services and depots. The amount of effort and work that went into that project was phenomenal and for it to be seamlessly introduced was very pleasing to see and be involved in.
I was very happy as a Conductor, an Instructor and never aspired to become a manager, but it’s where life took me and I’m very thankful to the people who have given me this opportunity. I feel very comfortable where I am now and intend to stay in this role as I definitely think it suits me.
I’ve always promoted having a positive attitude and if you maintain this day in day out you will reach your full potential. If you’ve had a tough day on the network then speak to your line manager, it’s better to get it off your chest.
Wow, there have been many times where things haven’t exactly worked out as they should have. Firstly, don’t be downbeat about it, take the time to reflect upon what happened and learn from it. You will become a stronger person and manager as a result.
Having a large family limits this, but when I’m not being dad’s taxi, I enjoy supporting Sheffield United FC, eating sweet things, DIY and relaxing in the sun.
In a previous job I used to walk Simon Le Bon’s dog every weekend while he had lunch in the hotel I worked at. He was a very nice man and always tipped very generously.
Favourite Nova? As my team work on the Nova 2 on the West Coast Main Line and I’m trained and competent on Nova 2 as a Conductor - it’s a no brainer!
Favourite train station? Platform 14 at Manchester Piccadilly - when I was a Conductor at Blackpool North, I knew I was heading home when departing from there.
Your favourite city in the North? Chester as a city and Windermere as a place.
Best holiday destination? I love Turkey it’s an amazing place and of course eating Turkey too.
Podcast or book? Podcasts all day long.
What song can you listen to on repeat? The Show by Doug E Fresh and The Get Fresh Crew.
Favourite artist of all time? Kylie Minogue.
A film you could watch over and over? A Bridge Too Far, an epic war film.
What’s your guilty pleasure? Egg custards, vanilla slices, doughnuts and biscuits of any variety.
I’ve worked for TPE for 1 and a half years, during this time I was a Customer/Nova Ambassador for 11 months, and now I’m a Conductor.
I worked at Royal Mail for 28 years. From delivery on foot, bike, and van to management. Then I had a go at being self-employed as a decorator but that didn't work out.
Every day is completely unique. You honestly never know what might happen.
New experiences, meeting interesting people, just looking out of the window and seeing some fantastic views up and down the UK.
I made some really good friends working at Manchester Victoria and Leeds stations whilst doing the Ambassador role. Having fantastic workmates and customers are a bonus to any job, but more so when you have to deal with difficult situations.
To continue to be good at the job as a Conductor and to learn more before I start thinking of doing anything else.
Ask questions if you’re unsure of what you’re being told. It is SO important you know what you’re doing.
Getting my brain into learning mode to become a Conductor! It's been over 30 years since I've had to take this much information in.
A box of Fosters, lots of snacks, a good movie, and a bit of a cuddle.
I’ve always wanted to be in a band.
Favourite Nova? Nova 1.
Favourite train station? Stalybridge.
Your favourite city in the North? Manchester.
Best holiday destination? Florida.
Podcast or book? Book.
What song can you listen to on repeat? Hybrid - Out Of The Dark and Elbow - Scattered Black and Whites.
Favourite artist of all time? My friend Sue Scott who's a Manchester artist I've bought a couple of pieces from. She’s incredibly talented. Also, I don't think you can deny John Squire has just about EVERYTHING in his repertoire.
A film you could watch over and over? I can't watch films over and over. But I'm a bit of a sci-fi geek at heart, I love most of the space and comic book films.
What’s your guilty pleasure? Biscuits and pies.
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