THE former soldier who took over a disused military depot and converted it into a major railway test centre has been included in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.
Colin Flack, who has been awarded the OBE, retired from the army in 2010 with the rank of Colonel, took over the derelict Royal Engineers Central Depot in Long Marston in Warwickshire and set up Quinton Rail Technology Centre, going on to create the rail industry networking organisation Rail Alliance and also, in more recent years, the annual summer event Rail Live.
The Long Marston site has also become home to other innovative railway businesses, particularly Vivarail, which has successfully converted and modernised redundant London Underground cars to provide economical multi-mode trains for local lines. So far these have been selected for service in Bedfordshire, Wales and the Isle of Wight.
Visitors to Rail Live in 2019 were able to see another pioneering conversion consisting of a former Thameslink Class 319 unit belonging to leasing firm Porterbrook, which is now fuelled by hydrogen.
Colin has been keen to bring industry and educational institutions tgether, and as an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Birmingham he has used this relationship to integrate Rail Alliance with the University.
He said his OBE, which is for services to the Rail Supply Industry, had been a ‘total surprise’.
He continued: ‘I am humbled beyond belief to have been nominated and feel honoured that the work I’ve been involved in over the years has been recognised in one of the most significant ways possible. Helping SMEs is a real passion of mine. The ultimate reward for me is to see businesses with great ideas and a desire to succeed, not only do well, but to really thrive particularly during tough times in an industry that isn’t always the easiest to navigate.’