The new boss of train drivers' union Aslef is an affable South Welshman who has spent more than 40 years on the railways and nearly the same amount of time representing fellow workers.
By Ben Davies
BBC News political reporter
But it doesn't take very long before he demonstrates he is not the type to walk away from a fight.
Mr Norman was elected general secretary in June
Within minutes of my arriving at his Hampstead office he hit out at RMT general secretary Bob Crow accusing him of trying to use the London bombings to get his members better terms and conditions.
Keith Norman says he nearly walked out of a meeting with Ken Livingstone and Mr Crow about boosting security on London Transport.
Mr Norman told the BBC News Website: "When we got there it became very obvious that Bob was using the situation to get his members a 35 hour week and to recruit 600 guards on to the Tube and I felt sick.
"I was not prepared to listen to this and I was about to say to Ken Livingstone 'would you excuse me I've had enough' and I was just going to walk out the room.
"There were 52 people lying dead and Bob was going to use the situation ... at best that's insensitive, at worst that's sickening."
Norman, whose Hampstead office contains two thick files on an ongoing dispute with the RMT, said his union is waiting for a meeting at the TUC about the difficulties.
Late for meeting?
He alleges Mr Crow is trying to recruit Aslef members and warns if the RMT gets chucked out of the TUC it will become a "leper" trade union.
His remarks are likely to be seen as a gauntlet to the left-wing RMT chief who is not known for a fear of confrontation.
Responding later to the Aslef boss' comments, Mr Crow said Mr Norman had arrived 20 minutes late for the meeting with the capital's mayor and missed part of the discussions which covered the fact London Underground wanted to lose 800 staff in exchange for a shorter working week - agreed before the bombings took place.
"I am surprised if he's got something to say he doesn't come to me rather than going behind my back," Mr Crow said before denying he had tried to poach Aslef members.
Mr Norman was only formally elected in June after several months as the caretaker general secretary. His predecessor, Shaun Brady, was sacked for alleged gross misconduct.
The new general secretary says the union nearly collapsed last year under the weight of debts exceeding £500,000.
Norman puts most of the blame at the feet of Mr Brady who lost his job in the wake of his alleged involvement in a brawl at a barbecue at the union's Hampstead HQ.
"We still haven't got rid of all our deficit. We've made some substantial savings. This place was bleeding money," says Mr Norman.
"There were people making all kinds of claims on expenses - I don't want to go into it too much - but money was dripping out of this building like an uncontrollable tap.
"It was just drip, drip, drip. It was getting worse and worse and worse. Eventually after about eight months we arrested that, we paid off all the debts."
Mr Brady, now running a pub in Southampton, said he did not want to comment on his successor's remarks.
But he did say he was planning legal action against Aslef and was also trying to take the union to an employment tribunal. He has previously disputed the suggestion he was responsible for the union's debts.
Mr Norman certainly has a very different style from his predecessor - his door is left open throughout our conversation and a few people pop their heads around it.
£40k train drivers
At the same time he appears not to be averse to controversy. The day we meet he says he's in a "bloody bad mood" because of a spat with union's executive council.
But office politics aside, recent times have been good to many train drivers.
Shaun Brady is now a pub landlord
Those who win jobs on Eurostar get paid "well over £40,000 plus overtime".
The effect of this, Norman says, is a different kind person is attracted to the job - ex-teachers and an ex-veterinary surgeon are among Aslef's members.
"The everyday working class boy or girl is not the everyday train driver."
Solidarity with Columbia
That, he implies, caused problems when Mick Rix, Mr Brady's predecessor as general secretary, was in charge because of some of the political campaigns being run.
"I actually think that the fall in membership started before Shaun actually arrived here," he says.
"The union came in for a great deal of criticism for supporting causes in Columbia, for example, in Venezuela, in Cuba. I have to say that this union is an international union and I support all these issues, so does the executive and so does a fair-sized majority of the membership," says Mr Norman.
But he adds they need to be explained properly to the membership.
"What we have to explain to our members is that every time they go to a branch meeting they can criticise their union, they can criticise their officials, they can actually have a branch meeting, that is something that doesn't happen in Columbia because just to have a meeting you might disappear, you might get shot, you might get tortured or maimed. Sometimes the membership needs to be gently advised of that."
Norman says he's been in the Labour Party for over 30 years and he argues Tony Blair's government has let the railways down.
State of Aslef?
"There are times when I feel like getting up and criticising it but I'll do it in a constructive way and on the basis that I'm not leaving the Labour Party."
So what does he think about the Labour conference that saw ministers ignoring the will of the party when members backed rail renationalisation?
Rix was ousted by the union's membership
"What's the point of going to a conference where a democratic decision is taken and the government says 'well you can do what you like but we're not going to take any notice'? That's a recipe for death - not just for the Labour government but the Labour Party."
So talking of death what state is Aslef in now?
"The general secretary is an administrator - I have to make sure this building is functioning properly. I've got a damn good finance manager - there's an excellent team in there and it's through their efforts that this union's been pulled around. We are running a deficit of about £80,000 which compared to the £500,000 I inherited is a vast improvement."