After 46 years on the railways, Joe Porter, 64, a driver with Virgin Trains, has retired.
Mr Porter is among the last train drivers in Scotland to have worked on steam trains. He started his career cleaning steam locomotives as a teenager in 1967 and shovelling coal as a fireman weeks before the last of these engines was replaced.
Joe Porter has been at the controls of the Royal Scot and Royal Mail trains. He also briefly drove the ill-fated Advanced Passenger Train (ATP), the world’s first tilting train, though it only went at 15mph from a depot into Glasgow Central. Until his last shift on Wednesday, April 10, Joe was driving Pendolinos and Super Voyagers.
Mr Porter has worked his entire career at Polmadie and in 2010 was chosen to name a Super Voyager train in celebration of a £2 million investment in the maintenance facilities. He chose the name ‘Polmadie Depot’.
Ever the pragmatist, Joe said he was, ‘glad to see the back of steam trains’ and insisted his role in the railway was meant to be a six- month stop gap job till he trained as a plumber. After being seen off by well-wishers at Preston, he drove the 10.41 to Glasgow, where he was greeted with a red carpet laid to the door of the cab and a crowd of colleagues, including train crew, station staff and office workers as well as fellow drivers.
Says Chris Gibb, Virgin Trains Chief Operating Officer, ‘In a career spanning nearly 47 years, Joe really has seen it all: from steam through diesel to electric, from Beeching inspired decline to our current position of optimism, investment and ambition.
‘He also knew several generations of railway staff and managers, including myself as a traincrew supervisor at Polmadie in the 1980s. On behalf of current and past colleagues, and countless millions of his customers, I thank Joe for his service, and wish him a long, happy and healthy retirement.’