Home People Metro man bows out

Metro man bows out

An engineering stalwart who oversaw the construction of the Tyne and Wear Metro’s tracks is retiring after 47 years in the rail industry.

Phil Kirkland, who is the head of maintenance delivery at system owner Nexus, managed the bulk of Metro’s track installation work between 1979-84.

He was responsible for putting in the now-familiar alignments that were needed to carry Metro services when the system opened in phases from August 1980.

Phil, who retires in November, said: “I’m enormously proud to have played such a big part in the history of the Tyne and Wear Metro.

“It was an exciting and a hugely challenging project to work on. It was something that transformed public transport in our region. I think that I’m one of the few staff left who worked on the original construction project in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s.

“I oversaw the many miles of track installations that were needed in order to make the Metro become a reality. My fondest memory was seeing all of that work come to fruition when the first test trains started operating on the system. It was a vast project. There was acrimony too, at one point there were fears the government of the time was going to pull the plug on the funding, but we got there in the end.”

Phil has worked on Metro in two spells – during its construction up until 1984 and from 2007 in his final job role managing Metro’s ‘orange army’, which looks after the tracks, overhead lines and signalling systems.

He has worked on railway systems in 12 different countries, including spells in Australia and the United States Rocky Mountains, and played a key role in the electrification of the East Coast main line in the early 1990s. 

Phil added: “I’m definitely going to miss the job, but after being on call for over 40 years, and out there on the frontline in all weathers, it’s time for a break.” 

Recommended

East Grinstead line on track to reopen Monday 30 March

The East Grinstead line is expected to reopen on Monday 30 March after it was closed following Storm Ciara on 12 February.

Network Rail delivers urgent medical supplies – by road

Network Rail turned to road transport to deliver vital medical face masks to the NHS frontline on behalf of the British Army.

France: TGV used to transport Coronavirus patients

A double-deck TGV high-speed train has been used to transport patients sick with Coronavirus from the eastern side of the country to...

Infrarail postponed until 2021

Infrarail, the UK’s leading showcase of railway infrastructure technology and expertise, has been postponed following the escalation of COVID-19...

Neil Hannah to chair NCB

Network Certification Body (NCB), which provides a system-wide approach to railway assurance and certification on infrastructure, vehicle and freight projects, has announced the appointment...