New engineering and operations appointments

The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust (A1SLT) is delighted to announce significant voluntary and professional appointments to strengthen its engineering and operations teams.

Graham Nicholas, a past Trustee and Quality & Certification advisor for the Trust, has been appointed as Professional Head of Engineering. As such he chairs the new Tornado Engineering Committee and provides oversight and guidance on all the Trust’s vehicle engineering activities to support the ongoing operation of Tornado and her support coach as well as the construction programme for Prince of Wales. A key aspect of the role is maintaining close communication with our operator DB Cargo, the Rail Regulator and other industry parties, ensuring that all engineering activities are undertaken in accordance with industry requirements.

Graham is a professional railway engineer of over 30 years standing, first joining British Rail as an engineering management trainee in 1986. Having spent the formative years of his career in rail vehicle maintenance depots in the North West of England, he has latterly specialised in rail vehicle certification and approvals and is today regarded as one of the country’s leading experts in these processes, having rewritten and updated the RSSB industry standards in this area. Graham first gained his registration as a chartered engineer in 1991 and in 2014 was elected as Fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

Graham Nicholas commented, “After a challenging and chastening year, I am happy to ‘step up to the plate’ and play my part in the re-shaping of the Trust’s management arrangements, both to ensure Tornado’s continued successful main line and heritage railway operations as well as helping the Trust deliver its future strategic aims and objectives.”

Huw Parker, who has volunteered for the Trust for six years, latterly as Deputy Operations Director, has been appointed as a Trustee and Operations Director. In this role Huw will oversee the day to day operations of Tornado and liaise closely with the Commercial and Engineering functions to ensure the locomotive continues to meet its commitments.

Huw was until recently a serving Lieutenant Colonel with the Corps of Royal Engineers, which he joined directly from school through RMA Sandhurst in 1980 and was commissioned in 1981. He held a variety of military appointments and seen tours of duty ranging from the Falkland Islands, Germany, Canada, Northern Ireland, the Balkans and the Middle East.  Latterly, he has been based at the Defence Equipment and Support organisation in Bristol in a civilian role where he has primarily been responsible for Deployable Infrastructure, Protected Mobility and Logistic Vehicles.

Huw began his involvement within the Railway Preservation scene at Steamport Southport.  Along with members of the Liverpool Locomotive Preservation Group, he became involved with the restoration of Derek Foster’s ex-LMS Jinty 0-6-0T No. 7298. He took part in the Rocket 150 Rainhill Cavalcade celebrations and moved to the Llangollen Railway in North Wales when the Jinty visited there in 1981 and, after a spell at the East Lancashire Railway, Llangollen became his home railway. After many years helping to look after No. 7298, Huw eventually bought it from Derek in 1997 and operated the locomotive with support from the Llangollen until it was recently sold.

Huw first became involved with Tornado when the locomotive visited Llangollen for the very successful ‘Steam, Steel and Stars III Gala’ in 2012 and he was the rostered driver for several turns during the locomotive’s visit. Tornado opened the first section of the extension to Corwen, which Huw and a small group of individuals had planned and built in the previous 12 months.  Although not driving the first train, he enjoyed the experience so much that he took an offer to join them for a run on the main line. Since those first turns as a support crew member, Huw is now responsible for rostering of A1SLT Support Crew and as a Responsible Officer, managing the logistics and support to Tornado wherever she might be operating. He was responsible for the locomotive on the ill-fated ‘Ebor Flyer’, where with other A1SLT and DB Cargo colleagues, he was integral in the protection and subsequent recovery of the train. Since then, he has been closely involved with repairs and the process to return Tornado to the main line.

Huw Parker commented, “Since I was first introduced to Tornado, it has been a privilege to be so closely involved with operating her across the country on main line trips and visits to heritage railways.  I am looking forward to my new role as Operations Director working with Trust colleagues and our external stakeholders in managing this wonderful locomotive into the future.”

Richard Pearson has been appointed to the new full-time role as Engineering and Works Manager. Richard was previously Workshop & Rail Operations Manager for the National Railway Museum at Locomotion, Shildon and a long-standing volunteer for the North Eastern Locomotive Preservation Group (NELPG) – A1SLT’s neighbour in Darlington Locomotive Works. In his new role, Richard will provide engineering management support to the operation of No. 60163 Tornado on the main line and heritage railways. He will also lead the team of staff, contractors and volunteers building a new Gresley class P2 steam locomotive No. 2007 Prince of Wales at Darlington Locomotive Works. Additionally, Richard will in future take the lead in the delivery of the third new steam locomotive, Gresley class V4 No. 3403, to be constructed by the Trust.

Richard has volunteered with NELPG for more than 30 years and is a voluntary Company Director. His role within NELPG focuses on engineering, and he is regularly involved in overhauling and maintaining the group’s four operational steam locomotives, including leading on mechanical and pressure vessel boiler work. During his time with NELPG, he has worked in many roles, including those of Engineer Manager and Assistant Chief Mechanical Engineer for the group’s locomotives. He has also been project lead on the overhauls of Worsdell class J27 No. 65894, Peppercorn class K1 No. 62005, Raven class Q6 No. 63395 and Worsdell J72 No. 69023, and recently taken the lead on the final assembly and commission of the most recent overhaul on No. 65894.

Since 1987, Richard has volunteered frequently in the operation of LNER steam locomotives on Network Rail, working as part of support crews for NELPG with both No. 62005 and Peppercorn class A2 No. 60532 Blue Peter. Prior to becoming a paid employee of the National Railway Museum, he volunteered for the NRM on several tours with Gresley class A3 No. 4472 Flying Scotsman and Gresley class V2 No. 4771 Green Arrow. Richard has also volunteered as support crew with Gresley class A4s No. 60007 Sir Nigel Gresley and No. 60009 Union of South Africa and of course No. 60163 Tornado. Richard also currently volunteers frequently at the Wensleydale Railway as a steam locomotive driver, driving tourist trains over the 22-mile route from Northallerton to Redmire.

Richard Pearson commented, “I have a life-long passion for steam locomotives and I’ve been a volunteer primarily on LNER locomotives for more than 30 years both on heritage railways and on the main line, I’ve also followed the work of The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust for many years and have worked as a member of support crew on No. 60163 Tornado.

“To get the opportunity to play a key role in the engineering aspects of the operation of Tornado and the construction of Prince of Wales was an opportunity that I just couldn’t turn down, so I’m very excited to be part of this high-profile team.”

The Trustees of The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust commented, “We are delighted to announce the strengthening of both our engineering and operations teams with three new appointments – Graham Nicholas as Professional Head of Engineering, Huw Parker as Trustee & Operations Director and Richard Pearson as full-time Engineering and Workshop Manager. These appointments will bring extra strength and depth to both teams as the Trust works to bring Tornado back into main line service and the pace of construction of Prince of Wales continues to accelerate.”