Nyora – born Ray Barden left his hometown for a career in the Victorian Railways starting as a Lad Porter, where through hard work and natural talent he rose through the ranks to its upper levels of Management. His straight- from-the -shoulder, no nonsense, sometimes blunt management style forged allies and created enemies in the department, in politics and with some rail unions. He was regarded as somewhat unorthodox in style; honest and confronting; tough but fair and as a man who could get a job done in the most difficult circumstances.
In the years when the increasingly moribund Victorian Railways was struggling to modernise and become financially viable Ray Barden’s “tell it as it is” manner saw him respected by many but disliked by some. In the end the organization failed, and Ray’s detractors ensured that he was sidelined. He fell on his sword in 1985 at a critical time politically, and for railways. Ray’s 33-year career is bracketed by humble beginnings and an active, interesting semi-retirement which saw him and Carmel, his devoted wife of many years, travelling Australia and overseas developing their hobby farm, and being involved in community activities.
A Man of Principle is far from a “sour grapes” memoir. It provides an insight into the inner workings of the Victorian Railways management at a time of great change as told by someone who was there, challenging the status quo.
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Paperback, 395pp, 2021