The Rail Supply Group staged a reception at the London Transport Museum on Monday 17 June, ostensibly to mark the retirement of Gordon Wakeford, who has stepped down as both CEO of Siemens Mobility in the UK and as co-chairman of the RSG.
But, as often happens on these occasions, there was more to it than that.
Gordon started off proceedings by recapping some of the things that had happened on his watch. Most memorable was the Rail Sector Deal, a collaboration between government and the rail industry that aims to both make the railway more efficient and also boost exports.
“The sector deal will be transformational. It’s a deal that builds upon the here and now but, importantly, lifts our heads to the future, five to ten years hence, where we will change the landscape,” he said.
Returning to a theme he started at Railtex recently, where he spoke in the Rail Engineer Seminar Theatre, Gordon revised the wording of the Beach Boys’ hit ‘Wouldn’t It Be Nice’ to include the vision he and the RSG have developed for the industry.
Thankfully, nobody sang.
Gordon paid tribute to the team that had delivered the rail sector deal, and singled out Anna Delvecchio of Amey: “I really wish to wholeheartedly thank Anna Delvecchio for all of her hard work and dedication over the last three years where she has steadfastly acted as programme director, driving us all forward for the common cause. Anna, the RSG would not be where it is today without your perseverance.”
Anna is also stepping down from the role of project co-leadfor the sector deal, being replaced by Neil Ridley, formerly with the Railway Industry Association and the Transport Systems Catapult, and now managing director of Transport Genesis. However, she will still head the workgroup on productivity.
As a surprise, during a tour of the museum with Rail Minister Andrew Jones and Network Rail chairman and museum trustee Sir Peter Hendy, in the section ‘Untangling the Tracks’, Anna was shown a plaque on the wall that featured – Anna Delvecchio!
It has been placed on display in the museum, alongside those of historical transport figures such as Hannah Dadds (first female train driver on London Underground), Ellen Bulfield (one of the female conductors on London’s buses during World War 1 and the last to hand her job back to a returning male conductor once the war ended) and Joy Jarvis (designer of the tube’s ‘moquette’ seating fabric in the 1940s), in honour of Anna’s work, both in developing the Rail Sector Deal and her leading work promoting diversity and inclusion across the industry. She has also been made a patron of the London Transport museum.
“I am incredibly humbled and grateful to the Rail Supply Group and the London Transport Museum for this incredible gesture,” she said afterwards. “I am more committed than ever to continue what I have started and make the transport profession a more inclusive place for all.”
Gordon Wakeford had one last role to play, introducing Atkins president Philip Hoare, who is taking over as co-chair of the RSG. Unable to attend, Philip addressed the meeting over the internet from North America. He thanked Gordon for his leadership and enthusiasm and also thanked the RSG Council.
Niall Mackenzie, director at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, spoke of the government’s satisfaction at the delivery of the rail sector deal, and then Sir Peter Hendy presented two retirement presents.
The first went to Gordon Wakeford, who received a distant semaphore signal, and then Sir Peter presented a home signal arm to David Waboso, who recently retired as head of Network Rail’s Group Digital Railway but also from the RSG board.
It may have been an evening of goodbyes, but it also celebrated how strong the rail industry can be when it works together.