John Barber


I knew John nearly half my railway career, initially being audited by him circa 2006 before working for him at RSSB 2010 – 2017. Latterly we were travel buddies, enjoying several trips to Europe and beyond.

I say ‘worked for John’ but I think the greatest compliment I can pay him is that it never felt like that; we were first and foremost a team, with absolute respect for what the other brought to the partnership. With a passion for doing the right thing for the industry combined with the ‘twinkle in his eye’ sense of humour – and a healthy disregard for needless convention – I consider it an honour to have worked with him.

With me living so far from London, we established our famous ‘bacon butty’ meetings at his house in Derby instead. We’d go through the important business…and then the discussion would inevitably come round to one of our many mutual interests – travel and adventure.

Eventually, we decided to give it a try as travel buddies and headed for the Swiss Alps where we walked on a frozen lake, had beer ‘n chips overlooking a glacier, and threw snowballs at each other at the summit of a mountain top cable car ascent – John was in his element.

The highlight was our 2019 ‘Born to be Wild’ epic road trip exploring the western states of America. Timed to coincide with Union Pacific’s Golden Spike 150th anniversary celebrations, there are so many treasured memories of that trip, from staying in a replica settler’s wagon in Wyoming to the helicopter ride into the Grand Canyon out of Las Vegas.

Covid sadly interrupted any further travel until the end of 2021, by which time his illness was beginning to take hold. But that didn’t stop John being game for a couple more. Having weighed up what was possible on a trip to Salzburg and Nuremburg he then made one last supreme effort for a gentler North America trip in the summer of 2022. This time it was coast-to-coast, driving through the Canadian Rockies, then by train to Niagara and New York. As always, it was an honour to be his companion.

RIP, the one-and-only JB



Graham Nicholas

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