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The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson got it right when he said that there was something about a steam train that reduces adult males to bug-eyed adolescents. There were certainly a lot of awe-struck and genuinely delighted people along the Metropolitan Line on Sunday morning, as I and a handful of Cubic representatives and our guests were lucky enough to travel from Olympia in the west of the capital to Moorgate in London’s financial district – almost mirroring the first journey taken by a steam train along that route 150 years ago.
Cubic Corporation is Lead Industry Sponsor of the Anniversary and the Steam Run is a real highlight among the various celebrations taking place over the course of 2013 in an imaginative calendar put together by the team at the London Transport Museum. So on a cold, crisp Sunday morning, we gathered on the platform at Olympia in west London along with representatives of transport interest groups from around the world – and waited for the unmistakable sight and sound of the 120-year-old Met Loco No. 1 as it steamed into the station to whisk us off on our journey.
The half hour that followed was truly magical as we sat back in the perfectly restored carriages, rumbling along a route which included the original stretch of the Metropolitan Railway dating from 1863. Crowds of smiling faces lined the platform at each of the stations en route… before being promptly engulfed in clouds of billowing white steam. It was a genuinely unforgettable experience.
While nostalgia characterised the early part of the day, continuing innovation and investment were very much the theme later on as we boarded one of London’s newest Tube trains for our return journey.
At the post-Run reception, our very own Steve Shewmaker stood alongside Boris Johnson, Sir Peter Hendy (Commissioner, Transport for London) and Mike Brown (Managing Director, London Underground) as each spoke of the achievements of the Tube, the world’s oldest underground railway, which continues to evolve in parallel with the lives and needs of the millions of Londoners and visitors who use the network each day.
Each speaker highlighted the need for consistency and continuity of investment in the network as well as the vital role of innovation. Above all, however, it was an occasion to recognise the daily commitment and achievements of each member of the LU team. Sir Peter said that LU exemplifies just what can be achieved where the will to succeed combines with team effort, while Mike Brown believes that people are what make the difference, helping create the unique character of the Underground.
“The performance of the network during the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games was recognised worldwide and our team helped create many great memories for games-goers and the Olympic family, many of whom were visiting London for the first, and perhaps only, time in their lives,” he said. We wholeheartedly concur. Congratulations to London Underground, to the London Transport Museum and to Transport for London. Cubic is proud to work with you, every day.