Vernon Barker, Managing Director of TransPennine Express, has been awarded an OBE in the New Year Honours List for services to the rail industry.
There’s a write up about this in Vernon’s local paper, the Macclesfield Express.
I first met Vernon on 2 February 2001. He was Finance Director at First North Western and the then Managing Director, David Franks, had invited me to come and meet the Board at a Board Meeting they were having at Newton Heath Depot to let them know what we were doing with the then newish Mid Cheshire Train Performance QIT (Quality Improvement Team). I remember Vernon being very quiet and considered.
I was somewhat distracted, though, as David Franks had discovered that day was my 50th birthday. (Yes, this means I get my Old Codger’s Railcard next month! ) After my presentation, the door opened and in came a birthday cake he’d had specially made for me and the Board all sang Happy Birthday. Unforgettable! I was then taken for a conducted tour of Newton Heath Depot by the Engineering Director, Steve Rees (he’s now Fleet Director at award-winning C2C), and we looked at the first of 4 x 142s being modified with reliability improvements for the Mid Cheshire Line (142042). These proved so much more reliable, they ended up modifying the whole fleet.
Vernon quietly steered First North Western away from the financial precipice it was balancing on, and was then offered the MD position at TransPennine Express. First had certainly spotted him!
Vernon is a Chartered Accountant, training with Arthur Andersen before moving into industry. He’s one of those post-privatisation successes that would probably not have come about if British Rail were still a nationalised industry.
We’re delighted with this award. Vernon leads a great team and in his words, he couldn’t have done it without them.