Train operator Avanti West Coast has announced the retirement of one of the West Coast Main Line’s longest-serving employees.
After 54 years of working on the railway, Bob Bigsby waved farewell to colleagues this month.
He joined the railway back in 1967 and started as a pot washer on a British Rail service from London to the Lake district.
Bob said; “They gave me an induction which didn’t last long,” the 69-year-old said. “By 10am, I was on the train to Windermere. It was a shock because I’d barely left London. I was worried about my parents who had no idea when I’d be home – it was before the mobile phone days!”
Since then he has travelled on millions of miles of the network in various roles including Assistant Steward, Steward, Chief Steward (as the roles were known) and finally as a Service Manager for Avanti West Coast leading First Class and wider catering service on board.
Since 1974 Bob has also worked on the Royal Train, including the Queen’s Silver, Golden, and Diamond Jubilees. In 1999 he was awarded the Royal Victorian Medal in 1999 for his role on the service.
Bob explained why he has stayed working for the railway for so long, he said: “It’s the joy of meeting people that the railway brings. It’s the comradeship between the colleagues and the variety of customers I’ve had the pleasure to meet. I can honestly say I’ve had fun every single day.
“But like a lot of people I took stock of things during the lockdown. I’ve still got my good health and the time to retire just feels right.”
“Technology has revolutionised things,” he said. “Whether it was my roster or orders, I had to write it all down or deliver and pick up notices all over the station. Now it’s all just a call or a click away.
“But what has stayed the same is the friendship of the staff. There’s always been so much support and love, and if you’re in this world you’ll know what people mean by ‘railway family.’ Everyone stands by each other and that’s priceless.”
Paying tribute to Bob, his manager Kelsea Davies, said: “He’s been on the railways for over half a century and I don’t think we’ll ever see this length of service again.
“It’s such a pleasure to work with him and he knows the job inside out. He set a very high standard and he’ll be impossible to replace.”
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