"My qualifications for writing about Railway Engineering"
Let me introduce myself. From 1957
until 1962 I was working for Matisa Ltd. UK in Chertsey, Surrey. Although
Matisa was a multi-million pound international company based in Lausanne,
Switzerland, it was only a small company in the UK with a factory employing
maybe 30 people including staff and works personnel.
I joined Matisa Ltd UK as a design
draughtsman and quickly rose to the dizzy heights of Chief Engineer and at
one time was running the whole of design and manufacturing.
Initially we were manufacturing
Swiss designs. The drawings and technical specifications were all in metric
units and at that time the UK was using predominately Imperial measures so
all drawings had to be converted and checked for compatibility. We also sourced
proprietary components from the UK where possible which often meant dimensional
changes. Quite an undertaking, particularly for the larger machines.
We had a number of machines, mostly
tampers, on hire to British Rail with our own operators and maintenance teams.
At the same time we were selling
Swiss-made machines to British Rail and to do this we had to do demonstrations
of the equipment that often involved several week's work. I learned a lot
about track maintenance at this time from the Swiss operators and engineers
that were using the machines.
Later we designed and made special
purpose rail maintenance machines.
I travelled extensively world-wide
to exhibitions where we demonstrated machines and also went with machines
to train operators and maintenance crews. All in all it was hectic but exciting.
In 1963 Matisa sold the UK business
to our South African agents, E C Lenning. They closed the Chertsey factory,
bought Motor Rail Ltd. of Bedford and concentrated on selling machines to
British Rail direct from Switzerland. I moved to Bedford as their technical
advisor. The operation failed; Lennings sold Motor Rail and Matisa UK downsized
to a private house.
Since 2000 Matisa (UK) Ltd has
been based in Scunthorpe. Click
here for information.
These, then are my credentials
for writing about railways and railway engineering, particularly in the field
of track maintenance.
I must stress that as I write this
I am talking about track maintenance in the UK 40 years ago. From what I see
on TV it doesn't seem to have moved on much; in fact I've a suspicion it has
gone backwards. If you are a present-day railway engineer, particularly in
Track maintenance I should be very pleased to hear from you. Any communication
will be treated with the utmost confidentiality.
MATISA (Materiale Industriale SA) Lausanne (Switzerland) is still in being
and still has a strong presence in the manufacture and supply of track maintenance
They have a very informative website now. Go
to visit it now