National Express East Anglia’s Robert Barnes has retired after working for more than half a century in the rail industry. The Ilford depot based technician, known as Bob to his colleagues, joined the railway at just 15 years old in 1957, and has since clocked up over 50 years in the industry.
Bob began his career as a coach maker apprentice based at Stratford main works, where his father also worked as a stores man. Indeed, Bob comes from a family with a long association with the railway, aside from his father, Bob’s grandfather and two uncles also served on the railway.
During his career, Bob worked at Bounds Green, (near Alexandra Palace) and Holloway sidings. Following a two year break from the industry in which he worked for Ford, Bob moved to Ilford Depot as a Technician in the late sixties, where he remained until his retirement. He became a key member of the depot team, and was a great supporter of his colleagues, whom he served as a staff representative for many years. He retired at 68 in December 2010 and returned to Ilford Depot on Monday 4th April for a special presentation to officially mark his retirement.
Unknown to Bob, aside from the usual speech and a colourful bouquet of flowers, his colleagues had another extra-special send off planned for him – a train naming – electric train 321342 christened R.Barnes in celebration of his dedication to the railway – much to Bob’s surprise. So Bob, whose job it once was to fit nameplates to trains, now has one named after him, which can be seen today on the mainlines in Essex on the network he served.
Jason Carey National Express East Anglia’s Fleet Manager South said:
“Bob is a much loved member of the depot team and an inspiration to his colleagues. We’re delighted to name a train in recognition of his great contribution over many years. Though we are sorry to see him go, his influence will continue to be felt in the great team he has helped to build at the depot and each time we see the ‘R.Barnes’ train travelling around the network. We wish him every happiness in his retirement.”
Bob lives close to the Great Eastern mainline in South Essex, so he will be able to keep an eye on the trains and make sure they are running like clockwork – even in his retirement.