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Alan Spencer - A Life on the Rails

© Stuart Smith

For those that do not know Alan, here are a few facts about his long and distinguished career.

On the 25th February 1963, a railway career that would continue for over 55 years, started at Bromsgrove MPD. His first role was as a loco-cleaner, then fireman.

In 1966, a move to Old Oak Common in West London gave Alan his first driving job.

A year later, he returned to Bromsgrove. In 1970, Alan made the move across the West Midlands to Bescot Depot.

Now established as a driver, in October 1976 he moved to Stratford Depot, East London.  In December 1982, the ‘juice’ beckoned at Wimbledon Park. Under rail privatisation in 1994, Alan became part of the South West Trains franchise, eventually taking roles as Traincrew Supervisor and Driver Standards Manager.

With a footplate career now behind him, in March 2003, a move was made to Controller at Merlin Rail, then in January 2005, Control Manager & Traincrew Rostering with Fragonset.

A similar role was also undertaken at Victa Westlink.

Following two successful ventures in 2005 and 2006 (in co-operation with Mercia Charters), Alan set up his own Swiss-based rail charter company “Charters Helvetica”, to run a series of enthusiast trains via the Bern-Lötschberg-Simplon (BLS) company from Interlaken. A total of 19 trains ran between November 2005 & April 2010.

With his vast knowledge of the European rail network and its travel & ticketing systems, Alan joined Trains Europe between August 2009 and July 2012 to work as a Travel Advisor at their St Pancras International office.

In July 2012, he started with Devon & Cornwall Railways (a subsidiary company of BARS) as a Traincrew Roster Manager. This he did until October 2016.

From September 2016, he became a fully qualified Guard on Peak Rail, and became a co-opted Board Member & Shareholder earlier in 2017.

He started his latest venture in October 2016, as a Control Manager for the Rail Operations Group (ROG) based in Derby.

Throughout his whole railway career, Alan has also organised and led countless trips and visits to mainland Europe, taking with him a regular and loyal group of followers and like-minded railway professionals and friends.

So after 57 years, 6 months and 6 days, retirement has finally arrived.

Alan Spencer - The Last Shift Finally Arrives…

A letter to Alan, from his ‘last’ employer……..

I was hoping to catch you in the office on this your last shift in well over 55 years serving our industry, but I have been foiled. The Western always did do things differently, and Alan, you picked a Bank Holiday for your final turn - typically Western to the last!

For you and the wider audience, I couldn't let the moment pass without a few words.

Alan joined Rail Operations Group (ROG) some four years ago after a lifetime in the industry, and has been intrinsic in our development. Without his help, advice and tenacity, we would not be where we are. His efforts really have assisted in moving the business forward.

Born of a very different era, Alans ability to 'move with the times' and adapt to change is remarkable and has stood him in good stead for the long and successful career he has enjoyed. I cannot acknowledge the breadth and depth of Alans career here, there simply are not enough words. Suffice to say that it has been remarkable, and lengthy in tenure. A product of Swindon, Alan has remained independent to the end.

An asset leaves the industry today. An asset of which Alans predecessors would be justifiably proud – as are ROG. Equally proud, I am sure, are those who owe their career to your training and coaching.

We will meet up for a celebration, when current circumstances permit. Until then Alan, thank you for the last 57 years 6 months and 6 days. On behalf of the industry you have served so well, I wish you a long and happy retirement.

Keep a bit in the back corners and some under the door my friend!

Warmest Regards,

David Burley

Managing Director, Rail Operations Group

And Thanks from The Institution

Although Alan has retired from the ‘big railway’, he remains a prominent and leading figure within the Institution Council.

Over the past few decades (as mentioned elsewhere), many of his ‘European’ adventures have been tailored towards the Institution, and in particular, its values on learning and education.

It is hoped that these trips will continue into the foreseeable future (albeit presumably on a smaller scale for ease of organisation) for members and friends to enjoy.

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Lickey Incliner II

An account of the Lickey Incliner II railtour run to celebrate are Alan's 70th birthday on 8th October 2017