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 Kevin F. - Meet The Team

Hi my name is Kevin and I'm relatively new to MRW as I joined the team around five months

ago, a few months after retiring from 30 years working in the rail industry.

I joined Brush Traction in Loughborough after University in 1993 for an engineering job to work on electrical transformers, rotating machines, switchgear and controls. There was no mention of railway trains or locomotives, but as a lifelong trainspotter I knew the history of Brush and correctly suspected that the lack of railways in the job description was to put off trainspotters applying! I was pleased to find the job was for locomotive test engineers on the current build of 46 new CL92 locos and 58 channel tunnel shuttle locomotives.

The Eurotunnel Class 9 or Class 9000 are six-axle high-power Bo′Bo′Bo′ single-ended electric locomotives built by the Euroshuttle Locomotive Consortium (ESCL) of Brush Traction and ABB. // Credit: Wikipedia

I was later lucky enough to spend a year on the Great Central Railway whilst at Brush, commissioning 25 new 0-4-0 battery and overhead powered shunters for the Hong Kong MTR. It mainly involved driving them between Quorn and Rothley stations and I have fond memories of racing an LMS Black 5 on this only section of double track at the time. As there is no overhead power line on the GCR, the shunters were kept charged by a large diesel engine in a container wagon and a transformer/rectifier in another to feed 1500 volts DC onto the shunters pantograph. A guards’ break van completed the test train which served as our office, complete with a coal stove for warmth and kettle.

Mk3 Battery-Electric Locomotives // Credit: Wabtec

My luck ran out though as I was not able to go to Hong Kong for the final testing in this final year of the British rule, but instead went to Crewe depot to join the field service team on the dual voltage CL92’s. By then I was in service on the WCML and through the channel tunnel, so the furthest I got was a couple of test runs through the tunnel to Coquelles in France. The loco orderbook dried up at Brush in 2000 so it was time to jump ship to Adtranz in Derby who were partners in the loco builds but who also had huge orders for new electric trains all around the UK to replace the hundreds of slam door passenger trains still in service. This involved driving all types on the Old Dalby test track at Melton Mowbray and Derby.

Adtranz became Bombardier and eventually Alstom and the large orders continued on the London Underground, replacing all of the trains on the Metropolitan, Circle, District and Hammersmith City lines followed by all London Overground routes and diesel units for Scotland. Finally it was the 70 new Crossrail trains for the now named Elizabeth Line running from Reading through new London tunnels to Brentwood in Essex. This also involved servicing and reliability engineering work at many London depots, Scotland and a few months in India on the Delhi metro. Even this monster orderbook dried up recently, so that train production in the UK now hangs in the balance.

Kevin at MRW wrapping parcels

Early years

I was actually a mature student at University as I first undertook a five year apprenticeship in HVAC drawing office and design, and then 5 years in the RAF as an electronics technician on flight simulators, mainly in Lincolnshire and Scotland on Phantom and Tornado simulators. The Battle of Britain flight was also based at Coningsby, so was able to sit in the Spitfire, Hurricane and Lancaster cockpits one quiet weekend.

My limited practical mechanical engineering dates back to school age when I helped my dad

design and build sailing yachts and sail them across to France and later around the Mediterranean, plus school DT metalwork projects and bike and motorbike maintenance. My career has been mainly involved with electrical and electronics work, so it has been a full circle returning to mechanical engineering.

Hobbies and interests

Motorbikes, tennis/badminton, drums, bass and electric guitars, foreign travel and reading. It was building guitar effects pedals from magazines that sparked an interest in electronics and hence the change of career, helped later of course by University. Later-in-life University attendance was easier in those days with free University courses.

Rebuilding a loco at MRW

What it means to me to work at MRW

The most interesting aspect is the variety of work at MRW, with two days never being the same. This is due to the wide range of products being on order at any given time. It has also been enjoyable to apply mechanical engineering skills which I have not been able to use at work for many years in the varied work tasks at MRW.

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