Rail journeys: Andy England

From pretending to be Ivor in the school playground (you need to have grown up in the UK to know Ivor the Engine), to taking a graduate job with British Rail, and all the way through to his rail infrastructure project work in Australia – it’s fair to say rail is in Andy’s DNA.

QWhen did you start working in rail?

Straight out of university. My whole career has been in the rail sector. I’m rail through and through – if you cut me in half!

I joined British Rail as a graduate. I studied electronic engineering, so as an extension of that my first roles were in the signalling and telecommunications space. Over time I’ve moved into project management and overseen the design, construction and delivery of a range of projects.

In Australia, I’ve worked on the new light rail in Parramatta, Sydney Metro, the multi-million-dollar design and construction of the Glenfield to Leppington rail line and the North Strathfield rail underpass – to name a few.

Quick Q&A

Best rail travel experience?

I suppose the most significant railway that I’ve been on is the Eurostar, linking London to Paris and to Brussels. It’s an amazing feat of engineering. And the time that I travelled on it, it was still relatively new. So, travelling under the English Channel was impressive.

QWhat are the rail trends to watch in Australia?

We’ve been debating the merits of high speed rail for many years. Personally, I’m not sure that’ll get off the ground – the attention now or the mantra is ‘faster rail’. I think we’ll see more investment in improving regional commuter and freight services, straightening out the kinks and making it more efficient and faster to move from A to B.

We’ll also continue to see investment and installation of improved signalling technology. Ultimately it’s about capacity, and a more efficient, controlled system allows for more frequent services – essentially pushing more trains down the same bit of railway.

QFavourite train character?

Ivor the Engine. Not many in Australia will know what that is, but there are a lot of British people who have come over here to work and they’ll know it.

I remember as a five or six-year-old that was my go-to TV program. It was a favourite, to the point that sometimes at school, I’d be the engine and all the kids would be behind me, you know, stretching my jumper beyond belief.

I can’t say it was a childhood ambition to work in rail though – or that Ivor inspired my career. But I’m glad my graduate job was in the rail industry. It’s been a fascinating and rewarding sector to work in.

Andy standing next to a Pendolino train in the UK.

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