DAVID ROLLIN, who died of Covid on 20 January aged 76, joined British Rail as an engineering apprentice in 1960. A scholarship saw him obtain an engineering degree on a sandwich course.
His rise through British Rail Engineering Ltd, in works, project and sales management, culminated in his appointment in 1985 as Project Director for InterCity 225. As David told it, when he walked into his new office on 5 February 1985 there was a note on his desk from the Director InterCity Cyril Bleasdale. ‘The Project Director’s life is a lonely one. You have the difficult and important task of writing the conversion case from the Class 89 to the Class 91 for the ECML (East Coast main line) in three weeks. Good luck.’ There was a PS: ‘Perhaps you would like to use your initiative to find a telephone, a chair etc’.
That set the tone for the fastest paced and most rewarding project I have followed during my years with Modern Railways. All the managers and engineers involved were long standing friends, and with David’s encouragement I had unprecedented access during design, construction and testing through to the famous 3hr 29min London to Edinburgh inaugural run.