(This article was written in 2008 and is historical material)
Metro driver, Ian Rossiter, was one of the first to drive trains on the system when it opened in August 1980, and he looks back fondly on those early days with a sense of pride at what had been achieved.
Ian, 48, of High Heaton in Newcastle, can remember the beginning of Metro as if it was yesterday.
He said: “Everyone felt a great deal of pride in being part of this brand new transport system which really was ahead of its time. There was a real camaraderie among the drivers. I think everyone was acutely aware of the need to get the system up and running successfully and knew they had an extremely important part to play.”
Ian was working as a Guard for British Rail in the late 1970s when Metro was just about to open. Metro driving jobs were highly sought after at the time and he was lucky enough to be taken on.
“I remember there was a lot of excitement at the prospect of driving the Metro trains,” said Ian. “I was only 21 at the time but managed to double my wages, almost overnight, and take on a fantastic opportunity that thousands of lads were interested in at the time.”
Ian drove Metros for 18 years before taking a managerial role with Nexus in 1998 – he is currently Operations Resources Manager based at the Metro Control Centre in South Gosforth.
He said: “Looking back, it was a great time to be a Metro driver in 1980. The Metro was brand new and a world away from what I had been used to with British Rail. Even the new uniforms seemed light years away from what I had been used to. Metro gave many lads a fresh start and the chance to improve themselves, with improved pay and a much better pension scheme, and it gave passengers an integrated transport system that was almost unrivalled across Britian.”
He added: “Quite often people take Metro for granted, but I don’t think we should ever lose sight of the fact that it was a major achievement for Tyneside and something which has stood the test of time, even after 26 years of service.”