Keltbray Aspire’s Les Blake has won the 2016 Rail Staff Life Time Achievement Award for dedicating 54 years to the rail industry.
Born in 1942, Les joined British Railways as a 20-year old in the Freight Terminal at Aintree in Liverpool, before progressing through the ranks, from marshalling to Overhead Lineman. In 1964 Les worked at the Wigan Depot and was involved in the construction of the earliest types of UK 25kv Overhead Line systems.
In 1972 he was promoted to Overhead Line Supervisor, a position he would undertake for 26 years. He was responsible for the day to day management of Wigan Overhead Line Depot covering Maintenance, Renewals, Remodelling, Rapid Response and Incident Support, and developed recovery plans for major incidents.
His expertise was frequently called upon to lead national efforts to improve staff capability, and he developed a passion for identifying new working methods and development of new plant and equipment to improve safety and efficiency.
In 1998 Les moved to the West Coast Route Modernisation leading a special projects team to deliver the complex Overhead Line Electrification construction aspects associated with the West Coast upgrade. He led the team; developing new road rail plant and the high output wiring train.
In 2007 and at the age of 65, Les moved to Keltbray Aspire as the Overhead Line Consultant – a role in which he continues today. During his time at Keltbray, Les has continued with unwavering dedication to promote and teach safe and efficient working practices, playing a key role in the development of Apprentices and Junior Linemen as well as offering constant support to the more experienced members of the team.
Now in his 70s Les is showing no signs of slowing down! His expertise is called upon all over the world; most recently he supported the Passenger Transport Authority in Perth, Australia, to develop maintenance and rapid response procedures.
In the UK, his drive to develop even more sophisticated machines for the industry resulted with him coming up with the concept of a road rail full tensioning wiring unit. Working with Keltbray Aspire, SRS and Zeck, Les successfully brought the unit to the industry. The unit, which halves overhead line electrification installation times, has been named “The Les Blake LB54” in honour of this great achievements and to recognise Les’ dedication to the industry.
After losing his grandson Ben at the young age of 18 in 2011 whilst competing in the British Superbikes Championship at Cadwell Park, Les helped set up a charity in Ben’s memory. The charity, ‘The Benjamin Gautrey Foundation’ raises funds to help young people achieve their goals from grass root level by promoting the sports Ben was so passionate about.
There is no other more deserving winner of this year’s Rail Staff Lifetime Achievement Award, and we congratulate Les Blake for this worthy recognition!
For more information, please contact Keltbray’s head of communications, Marit Meyer-Bell on tel. 0786 765 3392 or by email to [email protected]
Keltbray Aspire is a leading provider of overhead line electrification design and build; from consultancy to delivery across the UK. With head office in Crewe, the company is part of Keltbray Group; the UK’s leading specialist business, which offers engineering, construction, demolition, decommissioning, remediation, rail and environmental services. For more information, see Keltbray Aspire Overhead Line Electrification