Newcastle United football heroes John Beresford and Joe Allon took the controls of an Intercity 125 simulator at Newcastle Central to publicise further education courses available for rail staff in the city.
Says John Beresford, ‘The simulator is very realistic, right down to the landmarks alongside the track leaving Newcastle. It’s a real eye-opener to see how quickly the train driver has to think ahead and react at the controls. Learning something new is always positive – that’s why Joe and myself are keen to help East Coast raise awareness of the learning opportunities for hundreds of rail staff based at Central Station.’
East Coast is right behind the move. Says Driver Manager, Bob Howes, who started life as an apprentice player with the Magpies, ‘Both John and Joe enjoy the lifelong affection of United supporters, left-back John for his memorable performances in Kevin Keegan’s ‘Entertainers’ team in the early 1990s, and striker Joe for his great goals across five years with the Toon from 1984 to 1988.
‘When I was a young apprentice with Newcastle United, they still made sure I went along to North Tyneside College once a week to continue my education. We’re already planning a second event for rail staff and the support from two legends of St James’ Park is very encouraging.’
The driving simulator is one of four based at East Coast driver depots in Newcastle, Edinburgh, Leeds and London King’s Cross.
Each features an exact replica complete with all the controls and gauges of the real thing. The simulator can be adapted in seconds to depict either of East Coast’s two types of motive power, the Class 91 electric locomotive or the Class 43 diesel High Speed Train.