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Monday, October 19, 1998 Published at 14:46 GMT 15:46 UK


Curriculum vitae: Lew Adams

[ image:  ]
Lew Adams

Richard Branson's shock new signing

Also known as:
The Black Prince of Militancy (Daily Mail, 1995). Wrecker (Daily Express, 1982). Shadowy (Mail, 1982). Poacher turned gamekeeper (lots of other people, 1998)

Following in the footsteps of Mike Oldfield and the Spice Girls, Adams is the latest recruit to the Virgin empire.

Previous experience:
None in music, but many years driving trains, and leading the train drivers' union Aslef. Less Tubular Bells, more Tubes.

Which should be useful in his new position with Virgin Trains, where he will teach train drivers. And he should be popular in the classroom - Adams secured a two-hour cut in drivers' working weeks, in return for salaries of £20,000+.

Different from Richard Branson, but in some ways the same:
The young Richard spent his adolescence running a mail-order record shop from a phone box. The young Lew spent his cleaning out the ash cans of steam locomotives. "It is hard to imagine two more different men.The only thing they have in common is railways and a reputation for straight dealing," said the BBC's man.

Fits the Virgin anti-Establishment profile:
Has been critical of Tony Blair, and called for the Labour Government to restore trade union rights removed by the Thatcher administrations. Ditched by the members of his own union as leader earlier this year, when they elected one of Arthur Scargill's Socialist Labour Party members.

Played vocal role in rail privatisation:
Although not quite the same as his new boss. Had a pledge by former shadow transport secretary Frank Dobson laminated, so he could keep it. "We will bring the railway system back into public ownership and control" it read.

Adams himself said, in 1995: "Our position is that we want to see all parts of British Rail that have been sold off brought back into public ownership as rapidly as possible." Now, instead of joining the rush to criticise the private rail companies such as. . . well, Virgin, he saves most of his bile for Railtrack.

Experience at finding a third way between unions and industry:
In 1997 oversaw Aslef setting up a profit-making drivers training school with one of the new privatised rail companies, which aimed for a £10m turnover.

The name of that company:
Virgin Trains

Honoured by a private rail operator:
Became the first former union leader to have a train named after him since 1947, when one privatised rail company named an engine Lew Adams - The Black Prince.

The name of that company:
Virgin Trains

Has particular experience which could be useful to Virgin and its troubles:
Earlier this year, he said train drivers should cut their speeds if they thought the track or signals were in poor condition. "We hope the travelling public will understand if the train is delayed because the driver has to reduce speed in the interests of ensuring their safe arrival at their destination," he said. Which beats blaming leaves on the line.

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