Our Team The names and faces behind the Group

Get to know the people behind the 225Group. These are the folks who are developing our exciting plans and working to make our ambitions a reality. We're always on the lookout for new supporters, and if you have something you think you can bring to the team, please get in touch.

Chris Curtis
Director

Chris is passionate about public transport and has a wide range of commercial, operational and consultancy experience in both the bus and railway industries. He cut his teeth with the TAS Partnership from 2001 and has been involved with the development of various transport networks as well as bids for the Thameslink, East Midlands and South West Trains rail franchises.

He has since held the positions of Business Development Manager for Go North East, Commercial & Network Manager for Arriva North East and Senior Transport Programme Officer for Northumberland County Council. In these roles, Chris has always commanded high standards and has continually delivered strong patronage and revenue growth in challenging markets. As a result, Chris is a well-respected individual in his field.

Chris’s various roles have allowed regular journeys between London, the North East and Scotland, and as a result he has had many years travelling on the InterCity 225.

To Chris, the InterCity 225 project revolutionised train travel on the East Coast Mainline (ECML). The trains evoke memories of the highest levels of service quality, especially under Great North Eastern Railway (GNER), and deserve their place in ECML history.

Chris achieved a First Class Honours Degree in Transport and Logistics Management at the University of Huddersfield. He lives with his wife and two sons near Stockton-on-Tees and in his private time enjoys travelling and both playing and watching football. He was President of the United Bus Enthusiasts Group from June 2018 until April 2021.

Ben Denton-Cardew
Director

Being one of the youngest independent railway consultants in the UK, Ben has had numerous successes including aiding D.A.T.S in the procurement and supply of new couplings and drawbars for the Midland Main Line Overhead Line Equipment testing train. He also had the honour of heading Network Rail’s ‘RDIS’ project as assistant project manager, from which he learnt a great deal.

His love of the InterCity 225 came from spending years of travelling between Peterborough and Edinburgh from the age five onwards. This, understandably, is when the InterCity 225 sets left a profound impression on Ben’s life. Then again, coming from the sleepy branch lines of Suffolk, hearing the 6400hp of power draw in was always going to captivate the imagination of someone who once aspired to be the next Fred Dibnah. From then on, the rest was history. Ben founded the original Facebook group for class 91 images and information in 2012, which has gathered more than five thousand followers and has been a huge success.

Ben secured an academic scholarship to study Politics at the University of Glasgow. After completing his undergraduate degree with full honours, he is currently completing the Graduate Diploma in Law at City University, and is due to complete the BPTC in the next year.

In non-railway roles, Ben has worked in the House of Commons as a political advisor; in the course of this he has run several election campaigns. He is an officer at the Royal Naval Reserve Unit HMS President, where his leadership and public speaking has won both acclaim and award.

In his private passions, Ben plays the cello at a professional level, and restores classic Jaguar cars at his home in Suffolk.

Lee Brannan
Director

Lee's love of railways started in the 1980s while hanging around Durham station admiring all the classic traction crossing the viaduct. This included Class 37s, 40s, 47s, High Speed Trains and InterCity 225s, which have always been his favourite.

After Lee left school, he went straight into an electrical apprenticeship. While he still maintains these qualifications, he moved away from the tools into a management role in 2007 running large electrical and mechanical projects. This led him on to site management for railway infrastructure contractors, and since then he has never looked back.

In 2021, Lee secured his dream job as LNER Estates Project Manager, working across all its stations and running projects from refurbishment to new development. Lee has always been fascinated by the beautiful architecture that railway stations possess, so he sees it as an honour and a privilege to be involved with preserving this.

Lee has played a major role in the development of the 225 Group, bringing huge knowledge and management experience to the team. If you see Lee on an LNER train or station, please go over and say hello – he’s a friendly approachable chap.

In his spare time, Lee is a keen runner with numerous half marathons and more recently a London Marathon under his belt. He's also a keen gamer on the Xbox and likes to watch the Sunderland football team, although he begrudgingly says it's more for the social side of having a pint with the lads than watching the football!

Jacob Baldwin
Marketing & Comms Manager

Jacob was a member of the customer experience panel throughout the Virgin Trains East Coast franchise, which gave him a unique insight into the final stages of the Project 21 ('Plush Tush') refresh of the fleet. While some of the more extravagant projects were sadly forgotten, Jacob was thrilled to see his suggestions and feedback on improvements to the Mark 4 carriage saloons reflected in the final designs.

Jacob has enjoyed many years of travel along the East Coast Mainline (ECML) from his home station of Skipton, so the iconic InterCity 225s and their high levels of comfort and quality have been a big part of his childhood. Jacob hopes to bring to the 225 Group his fascination for the way computers interface with the world, and considers the InterCity 225s to have been true trailblazers for technology many times over during their careers.

Although still a proud Northerner, Jacob moved south to Cambridge when he started University there in 2013. He fell in love with the Fens and continues to work for the University as an IT Analyst. Beyond his day job, he can be found developing his award-winning entrepreneurial endeavours, or presenting programmes and managing IT for two community radio stations. In his spare time, Jacob enjoys the theatre and never needs much persuasion to head into town for some local beer after shows.

Fraser Pithie
Development Manager

Fraser spent 33 years working in the utility sector, giving him an in-depth knowledge of operations, investment, asset management, maintenance and, above all, customer service. He started at the ‘coal face’ in 1979 as a District Inspector for the then Severn Trent Water Authority and by 2007 had risen through the ranks of what became Severn Trent plc to be its Senior Operations Manager.

Fraser was a Parish Council Chairman at the age of 26 and became Britain’s youngest County Councillor when he was elected to Warwickshire County Council at 29 in 1990. He also chaired Warwickshire’s Police Authority between 1995 and 1997.

Fraser retired in 2011 to pursue railway journalism and photography, and he now writes for The Railway Magazine, RAIL, Modern Railways and Railnews. He has produced a wide range of features, which seek to question and challenge or bring new insight into old subjects.

Fraser's passion for the Class 91 locomotives arose from his photography and led to a major feature in The Railway Magazine that was published in 2020. His knowledge and experience along with his contacts in the rail industry make him the perfect person to manage the development of the 225 Group. His writing will also be a regular feature of the 225 Group members’ magazine LiveWire.

Ian Beardsley
News Editor

Ian works for Platform 5 Publishing as a News & Features Writer for Today's Railways UK magazine, covering a wide range of subjects across the national rail network, light rail and the heritage sector.

Ian is also a volunteer at the Barrow Hill Roundhouse Railway Centre. Through this he has over ten years' experience in railway preservation, including rolling stock restoration and the organisation and management of events.

Ian is a life-long railway enthusiast and has a large collection of images. It is through photography, often of earlier East Coast motive power at work on charter trains, that his interest in InterCity 225s developed. Ian lives in Sheffield only a short distance from the East Coast Mainline (ECML) and can often be found at the lineside camera in hand. Although many of his trips to London have been on the Midland Mainline, Ian has fond memories of travelling aboard InterCity 225s from Doncaster to Edinburgh and Glasgow, especially during the Great North Eastern Railway (GNER) era.

Ian brings to the 225 Group extensive knowledge of the whole railway industry, and as Editor of our bi-annual LiveWire magazine will endeavour to put together all the latest news as well as interesting features about the InterCity 225s. In his spare time, Ian enjoys model making, walking, cycling and travelling around the railway network.

Jen Campbell
Membership Secretary

Jen has been interested in trains since she was a child and vaguely remembers playing with her Dad's model railway and reading his collection of 'World of Trains' magazines. She also enjoyed frequent visits to Newcastle station while travelling to see family who lived in other parts of the country.

Jen has always liked InterCity 225s, but her passion for the trains really came to life when she met a new partner, now wife, who lived in Essex before moving to the northeast. This gave Jen the opportunity to make many trips between Newcastle and London, and she thinks there’s so much to love about the InterCity 225s (not least the roar of the Class 91 locomotives). Jen even owns several standard class and first class seats, bringing the comfort of the Mark 4 carriages into her home.

Jen became an Excel member of the 225 Group when the membership scheme opened in June 2021, and from the outset expressed an interest in playing a bigger role in the organisation. She has administrative experience working for HM Revenue and Customs, a strong eye for detail and good organisation skills, which make her the perfect person for the role of Membership Secretary. Jen also manages the distribution of online shop orders.

Patrick Jenkins
Operations Assistant

Patrick lives near the East Coast Mainline (ECML) and has been interested in railways for most of his life. He joined the team in February 2021, and as Operations Assistant is responsible for collecting and recording a wide range of information about the InterCity 225s. This includes the diagrams, allocations and fleet lists that appear on our website and social media, which will form the basis of the future 225 Group archive.

Patrick is also a keen photographer with a good eye for detail, and his pictures feature widely in 225 Group publicity and social media. He is studying French, Geography, Drama and Theatre, and one day hopes to start a career on the railway.

In memory of...

Graeme Wright
Director (Honorary)

Graeme found his love of the railway and InterCity 225s while he was a student at Hull University making regular journeys between Doncaster, York and Newcastle. Little did he know what impact the railway would have on his life after leaving university.

Graeme was a career railwayman, starting on the iron road in June 1995 answering calls for the London Waterloo Telephone Enquiry Bureau. In 1997 he was employed by Great North Eastern Railway (GNER) at the then brand new telesales centre in Newcastle before becoming a Welcome Host then a Train Dispatcher with operational responsibility at Central station.

In early 2001, Graeme became a Guard (then called Customer Operations Leader) for GNER covering the whole of the East Coast Mainline (ECML) between London and Glasgow as well as numerous diversionary routes. He immediately found his feet and loved this truly operational role, which he continued through the changes to NXEC then East Coast.

In 2010, Graeme was appointed to the station management team at London King’s Cross. His remit included managing the operational competence of train dispatchers and building relationships with external stakeholders like Network Rail and the British Transport Police.

In 2015, Graeme went back ‘on the tools’ as a Train Manager and he excelled in this role with Virgin Trains East Coast and London North Eastern Railway (LNER) until his sudden passing in November 2021. Graeme will be remembered for his outstanding customer service and quirky announcements designed to leave people with a lasting impression of the LNER brand. He was a dedicated advocate of the LNER brand and the whole rail network and was awarded the LNER Legends Award for his service.

In his spare time, for his sins, Graeme was a season ticket holder at Sunderland football club and a fan of the Castleford Tigers rugby league team.

Graeme was a hugely important and passionate member of our team and played a key role developing the Group from its roots as the ‘Class 91 Appreciation and Photography Society’. Graeme became a 225 Group Director in summer 2021 and retains this posthumously on an honorary basis to reflect our gratitude for his effort and commitment.

With thanks to...

The 225Group would like to thank everyone who has contributed to making the Group a success. This includes all 5,000+ members of the Facebook group, which started out as the Class 91 Appreciation & Photography Society. We would particularly like to thank Arturs Dobrecovs for our logo and brand identity, and William Toms for his administrative assistance.

We're still on the look out for enthusiatic and passionate people to join our team. If you're interested in joining us, head over to our contact page and get in touch - be sure to let us know any relevant experience or qualifications, and what you feel you could bring to the team.

We're particularly keen to hear from anybody with engineering experience - especially if it's with the InterCity 225 fleet - with a view to joining our team as Engineering Director. Prospective candidates should get in touch with the Director team to find out more about the role.

With the constant expansion of our membership scheme, we're also looking for individuals to assist with the management and running of this, particularly with regards to our regular members' magazine and the administration of the membership database. No prior experience is necessary, although you should have a good grasp of the Microsoft Office suite of programs, and good personal organisation skills. Again, please get in touch with the Director team for further information.

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Registered company in England and Wales no. 13095886.