Let me introduce myself. From 1957 until 1962 I was working for Matisa Ltd. UK in Chertsey, Surrey. Although Matisa was a multi-million pound international company based in Lausanne, Switzerland, it was only a small company in the UK with a factory employing maybe 30 people including staff and works personnel.
I joined Matisa Ltd UK as a design draughtsman and quickly rose to the dizzy heights of Chief Engineer and at one time was running the whole of design and manufacturing.
Initially we were manufacturing Swiss designs. The drawings and technical specifications were all in metric units and at that time the UK was using predominately Imperial measures so all drawings had to be converted and checked for compatibility. We also sourced proprietary components from the UK where possible which often meant dimensional changes. Quite an undertaking, particularly for the larger machines.
We had a number of machines, mostly tampers, on hire to British Rail with our own operators and maintenance teams.
At the same time we were selling Swiss-made machines to British Rail and to do this we had to do demonstrations of the equipment that often involved several week’s work. I learned a lot about track maintenance at this time from the Swiss operators and engineers that were using the machines.
Later we designed and made special purpose rail maintenance machines.
I travelled extensively world-wide to exhibitions where we demonstrated machines and also went with machines to train operators and maintenance crews. All in all it was hectic but exciting.
In 1963 Matisa sold the UK business to our South African agents, E C Lenning. They closed the Chertsey factory, bought Motor Rail Ltd. of Bedford and concentrated on selling machines to British Rail direct from Switzerland. I moved to Bedford as their technical advisor. The operation failed; Lennings sold Motor Rail and Matisa UK downsized to a private house.
Since 2000 Matisa (UK) Ltd has been based in Scunthorpe. Click here for information.
These, then are my credentials for writing about railways and railway engineering, particularly in the field of track maintenance.
I must stress that as I write this I am talking about track maintenance in the UK 40 years ago. From what I see on TV it doesn’t seem to have moved on much; in fact I’ve a suspicion it has gone backwards. If you are a present-day railway engineer, particularly in Track maintenance I should be very pleased to hear from you. Any communication will be treated with the utmost confidentiality.
MATISA (Materiale Industriale SA) Lausanne (Switzerland) is still in being and still has a strong presence in the manufacture and supply of track maintenance equipment.
They have a very informative website now. Go to visit it now