Ian Rossiter – one of the very first people to drive on the Tyne and Wear Metro when it opened back in 1980 – has retired after 40 years driving the trains on the transport network. Mr Rossiter, now 60, started driving trains in 1980 when he was just 21 and rose through the ranks to become a senior Metro manager.
Who better to explain more about his job over the past 40 years than Ian himself: “It was a special time. There was a great deal of excitement about the opening of this new, state-of-the art Metro. It was an amazing achievement to have our own underground system – and there I was, a 21 year-old lad who was getting the chance to drive the first trains. To even get a Metro built was something that they pulled off against all the odds. No other city outside of London was able to match it. People were fascinated by the Metro. They were coming in their droves to travel on it. There was great pride and camaraderie among the drivers. Most of us knew each other from working at British Rail. When we had nights out people would always want to talk to us when they found out that we were Metro drivers. It was a bit like being a rock star.”
Ian played a key role in the £100 million project to extend the Metro system to Sunderland and was responsible for training Metro drivers and amalgamating operating rules so they could run alongside trains on the Network Rail line between Pelaw and South Hylton. He also had to chose the driver to drive the train that took the Queen to the official opening of the line.
Ian is now in the process of setting up his own rail consultancy firm.