Andrew Skinner: Chair, IMechE Railway Division and Head of Engineering, Great Western Railway
Andrew joined the rail industry straight from school and was sponsored as an undergraduate by the British Railways Board. He gained a BEng degree having studied Mechanical Engineering at Brunel University.
Having spent time in the heavy engineering workshops in Doncaster and York as part of the sponsored student scheme, he had an initial placement in the Technical Office at Wembley Intercity Depot maintaining the West Coast passenger rolling stock.
After becoming chartered and a member of the IMechE, Andrew then moved to South Wales and joined the Technical Office at Cardiff Canton locomotive depot and was responsible for performance data, modifications and carried out fault finding. During this time, he also deputised for the Production Managers leading the shift maintenance teams.
His association with South Wales continued when he moved west to become the Area Traction & Rolling Stock Engineer at Margam responsible for the locomotive depot, wagon repair shops and rolling stock technicians carrying out pre departure freight train examinations. Here he gained the first combined BS Quality award for all three activities on BR. He started a commercial interest whilst at Margam having responsibility for the maintenance of British Steel wagons under contract. It was also this role which opened up his interest in the industrial railway history of South Wales and the industrial production and logistics involved in the rail freight markets.
His Depot Management experience was further expanded through a move to the West Midlands running Bescot locomotive depot and Chester Wagon shops for a couple of years.
With the privatisation of British Rail, Andrew moved back to Cardiff Canton as the Depot Manager with the depot’s activities expanding to now carry out wagon and rolling stock overhauls including the travelling Post Office vehicles.
To further his commercial skills, Andrew then took a sideways move into the freight commercial team as an Account Manager for the sales of infrastructure trains to service Railtrack’s track maintenance and renewals programmes.
An opportunity then arose for a Project Manager with experience of Depot Management, rolling stock technical knowledge and commercial skills to join Great Western Trains. Andrew was successful and initially managed an £18M upgrade to the High Speed Train fleet. He has continued in various engineering roles including Fleet Engineering Manager, Fleet Manager with responsibility for four major depots and around 600 staff to his current role as Head of Engineering for the Great Western Railway.
His responsibilities have broadened over time and he now manages fleet technical which covers one of the most diverse range of TOC T&RS in the UK including HST, IET, DMU, EMU, locomotives and carriages. He also manages materials technical, performance data, technical standards and occupational safety. His team are also responsible for operation of the ISO certified engineering integrated management system covering quality, safety, environmental and energy management.
Andrew’s involvement with IMechE activities began in the early 1990s as a committee member of the Railway Division South Western Centre, he went on to Chair the Centre for three years and is currently the Treasurer.
Following his Centre Chairmanship, Andrew continued as an Ordinary Board Member of the Railway Division at HQ which he continues to do. He currently has special responsibility for The Railway Engineers Forum.