In the summer of 1980, ex-British Rail guard Ian Rossiter became one of the first drivers to get behind the controls of the Tyne and Wear Metro’s then-brand-new Class 994 trains.
The iconic trains’ time on the light rail system is coming to an end – shortlisted bidders for its new £360 million rolling stock were revealed in September – and so has Ian’s, who has retired from the Metro after 40 years of dedicated service to setup his own consultancy.
The 60-year-old, of High Heaton, Newcastle, has fond memories from the network’s launch all those years ago.
He said: “There was a great deal of excitement about the opening of this new, state-of-the art Metro. It was an amazing achievement to have our own underground system – and there I was, a 21-year-old lad who was getting the chance to drive the first trains.
“People were fascinated by the Metro. They were coming in their droves to travel on it. There was great pride and camaraderie among the drivers. Most of us knew each other from working at British Rail.
“When I had nights out, I find people would always want to talk to us when they found out that we were Metro drivers. It was a bit like being a rock star.”
Over the years Ian rose through the ranks to become a senior Metro manager. Highlights include playing a key role in the £100 million extension to Sunderland in 2002 and starring alongside Toon legend Alan Shearer in a Barclays TV advert in 2015.
He added: “When I think back to my dad pestering me to fill that form in to become a Metro driver I realise now how significant it was. I’ve had a brilliant career. I’ve gained many qualifications and have made some amazing friends. Metro is like a family and will always be there to serve the people of Tyne and Wear. I’m enormously proud to have been a part of it.”
Read more: Tyne and Wear Metro on TV