Graeme Bunker-James

Graeme has been involved with the Trust for almost twenty years, ten years of which have involved the hands-on operation of Tornado.  Despite being the youngest Trustee, a title held for around 15 years, Graeme brought a lot of experience to The Trust Steam Locomotive Trust, useful both before completion of our A1 and once Tornado was running.

Born in Hitchin, an important LNER town in the days of steam, Graeme grew up in Hertfordshire.  Graeme’s enthusiasm for railways was fostered by his father who grew up with the Nine Elms’ turntable at the end of his road. After following steam across the country in his formative years, Graeme’s interest was rekindled when he joined (the soon to be privatised) Railtrack as a signalman in the East Riding of Yorkshire in 1995.

In 1998 he joined the business development section of Railtrack working on projects such as the Leeds 1st rebuilding, upgrades to the East Coast Main Line and routes in and around Yorkshire and across the Pennines.  The introduction of the new Virgin Voyager fleet across the UK led to further responsibility and the role of Deputy General Manager for the Route Modernisation that went with the new trains for Cross Country. With successful delivery and two National Rail Awards won Graeme then moved to Richard Branson’s Virgin leading the day to day operation and planning functions for both Cross Country and West Coast.

At the same time Graeme had become more hands on with steam, volunteering at the NYMR and joining the National Railway Museum’s main line support crew.  In 2002 Graeme passed out as a main line fireman with West Coast Railways, working to all four corners of the UK, including running A4s on the East Coast, taking City of Truro to Plymouth and firing a Stanier Duchess from Crewe to Carlisle and back on the same day.  Anyone who has seen Graeme on the footplate will have noticed the big smile and usually the black face!  He was the footplate for Tornado’s historic 100mph dash down the East Coast Main Line.

In the main industry Graeme’s career developed and he has since held the position of Regional Director Western at the Strategic Rail Authority and Managing Director of Arriva Trains Wales. More recently he has been Chief Executive of rail tour promoter Steam Dreams and is now developing his own consultancy business that includes PWC, Deutsche Bank, the BBC and Serco amongst its clients.

Recently Graeme stepped back as Operations Director but he remains a Trustee and aims to take a full role in current and future A1SLT projects including the P2 and V4 as well as the new train and expanded base in Darlington. However, he has agreed to serve on the SVR (Holdings) PLC Board as Commercial Director, as well as being Vice Chairman of The Gresley Society Trust, which he felt was not compatible with leading the operation of a main line locomotive full-time. Graeme’s service as Operations Director during Tornado’s first 10 years in traffic has been invaluable and we are delighted that he will continue as a Trustee, especially inputting to our long-term development plans.