Case studies

Whether you're thinking of joining the Scheme or not sure how to make the most of your benefits, here are some invaluable insights from real-life members who are either still working or enjoying their retirement.
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Derek Skingle

  • ​Now retired, Derek held senior operational and safety management positions in the railway industry, both in the UK and overseas.

I joined the Scheme soon after starting on British Rail back in 1967.

To begin with, being young and not thinking too much about getting old, I wanted to have money then, but some older railwaymen counselled me into being aware of the benefits. We had no financial advisors in those days.

The Scheme itself offered one of the best pensions around, what with four times your salary if death occurs in service, and the final salary scheme paid 2/3rds of your salary. When BRASS came out, I joined that and then later BRASS 2, as that would add even more to my final pension pot using additional voluntary contributions (AVC’s).

I had dreamed of retiring at 50, but when I got there, I realised I was too young to finish! I was fortunate enough to take voluntary redundancy in 1997, and used some of that money to buy more years in the pension fund, thus building up the amount I could take as a pension later.

I opted for the level-pension option and a larger lump sum when I took my pension, mainly because I wanted to ensure I got something out of my pension pot at a time when pension schemes elsewhere were being raided to fund restructuring initiatives, and also I didn’t know how long I would be drawing it – better in my pocket then elsewhere.

Now that I am retired, I am glad that I had the foresight to look forward to retiring early and planning for it. Given that the State pension age has shot up in recent years and is continuing to do so, it is even more important to plan ahead as it is becoming much harder for anyone to consider early retirement.

In my retirement, I can now do and enjoy many ​things. I'm a Trustee with Age UK, take part in local hospice and community work and am also a police volunteer.  I enjoy world cruises of 3-4 months' duration,​ and also use my protected free travel a lot.

I would say definitely join the pension scheme and plan for the future! By all means take financial advice, but PLAN, PLAN, PLAN!


​Derek has kindly contributed this case study as a personal viewpoint of the RPS. Please note that neither the Trustee, your employer nor RPMI can offer financial advice. It is strongly recommended that you seek independent financial advice before making any decisions about your pensions or retirement planning.

Case study_Peter LM

Peter Chapman

  • Member since September 2013
  • London Midland Section

"I joined the Scheme because it was such a tax-efficient way of saving for my retirement with the bonus of contributions from my employer. I’ve been paying in since I started work for London Midland in September 2013.

 

For me, the Scheme’s main benefits are the tax-efficient savings and the pension for my spouse should I die in service

 

I plan to retire in 2017, and will be spending my free time volunteering on the Wensleydale Railway.

 

As far as being a member of the RPS, I would say don’t hesitate to join. It certainly made financial sense for me."

 

Peter has kindly contributed this case study as a personal viewpoint of the RPS. Please note that neither the Trustee, your employer or RPMI can offer financial advice. It is strongly recommended that you seek independent financial advice before making any decisions about your pensions or retirement planning.

 

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Gavin Prewer

  • Now retired, Gavin was a signalman ​with Railtrack/Network Rail.

 

I joined the RPS to be secure in retirement.

When I joined I was also fortunate enough to be able to put my private pension in. (Please note that transfers-in depend on section rules).

I paid in for 10 years, including BRASS 2/matched contributions.

What are the main benefits for me? Well, the Scheme offers continued support in retirement. Any queries I have are dealt with by the Scheme, and I get regular updates about my benefits i.e. through the Penfriend newsletter, which is sent to pensioners twice a year.

I would recommend joining a pension scheme, and in particular I would recommend paying the full amount possible into a railway pension.

I did and I am now retired with a very substantial pension!

​Gavin has kindly contributed this case study as a personal viewpoint of the RPS. Please note that neither the Trustee, your employer nor RPMI can offer financial advice. It is strongly recommended that you seek independent financial advice before making any decisions about your pensions or retirement planning.
claire

Claire Carse

     
  • Member for 24 years
  • RPMI Section
I joined the Scheme when I was only 16 because I was told to! 
 
To be honest I didn’t really fully understand pension schemes at that time but I’m so pleased I joined at such a young age.  It means that by the time I retire I will have a nice healthy nest egg to enjoy my retirement.

How long have I been paying in? Wait a minute ... that’s going to give my age away!  I’ve been paying into the Scheme for almost 24 years now.
 
For me, the Scheme has a number of benefits.  As well as paying into the main Defined Benefit Scheme, I also contribute to BRASS 2, RPMI’s own in-house AVC (Additional Voluntary Contribution) arrangement. 

As my pension contributions are deducted from my pay before tax, this is a real advantage. The Scheme also provides a Death Benefit Lump Sum and dependants pension(s), if I were to die, so I know my family will be looked after in the event of my death.

As far as retiring, I’m far too young to think about that yet but I would like to be mortgage-free and have a 'nice' standard of living with maybe a few holidays each year.  I feel very secure in the fact that I have made provisions for my retirement and that  I won’t have to rely on the State Pension when I do retire.

I've no idea when I'll retire, but as a protected member my minimum pension age is 50. However, my normal pension age is 60 so if I were to leave employment and take payment at age 50, my pension benefits would be reduced to take into account paying them for the extra 10 years.
 
I would tell a new member, or anyone thinking of joining, to weigh up all the pros and cons and consider the tax advantages too, don’t just look at the contribution rate itself.  Before making any decision it’s always best to seek independent financial advice as everyone’s circumstances are different.

Claire has kindly contributed this case study as a personal viewpoint of the RPS. Please note that neither the Trustee, your employer nor RPMI can offer financial advice. It is strongly recommended that you seek independent financial advice before making any decisions about your pensions or retirement planning.
andrew backway

Andrew Backway

  • Now retired, Andrew held various managerial and non-managerial roles with Southern and South Eastern, including conductor, station manager and track access manager.
I joined the Scheme because I wanted to secure my family's future over and above State Pension provision, and also provide 'insurance' in case of unplanned events.

I paid in to the Scheme between 1992 and 2004, and also bought service back to 1973 by transferring in previous pension benefits from another arrangement.

That's actually the main piece of advice I would give to new members: if possible transfer in other pension benefits as they are unlikely to be as good as those offered by the Scheme. (Please note that transfers-in depend on individual section rules).

As a member of the 1994 Pensioners' section, there are a number of main RPS benefits for me.

For example, I retired at 50 to become my mother's full-time carer, so I found the ​early retirement benefits to be excellent.

​Plus I feel secure in the knowledge that my section's investments are safe because they're guaranteed by the government.

There's also an excellent 1/60 ​accrual rate and an excellent sickness pay-out on early retirement​.

So my advice to anyone who is thinking of joining would be: Don't hesitate!

​Andrew has kindly contributed this case study as a personal viewpoint of the RPS. Please note that neither the Trustee, your employer nor RPMI can offer financial advice. It is strongly recommended that you seek independent financial advice before making any decisions about your pensions or retirement planning.
kevin stewart

Kevin Stewart

  • Member since May 2001
  • Bombardier Transportation (Signal) UK Section

"The Scheme has a number of main benefits for me, namely:-

  • a high employer contribution rate
  • a high annual accrual rate (1/60)
  • and a high death in service benefit (worth 4 times my final average pensionable pay)

I hope to retire at the age of 55 when my wife can also take her pension and our son has finished his education, and plan to spend my retirement flying my plane, skiing and rock climbing. I might also try to restore some classic cars!
 

What would I say to a new member or someone who is thinking of joining? Well, I would tell them to look very carefully at the new government pension regulations (see www.gov.uk for details).  

Also, while the Scheme’s defined benefits are as good as you’ll get, you might also want to think about how you invest your AVCs if you want to top up your contributions.

Investments are a very complex topic that can be difficult to unravel, especially when you’re at the start of your career, so it’s always important to take independent financial advice first. 

But  I think it’s a very good idea to invest regularly in a tax-efficient arrangement and the RPS offers this with reasonable benefits."

Kevin has kindly contributed this case study as a personal viewpoint of the RPS. Please note that neither the Trustee, your employer nor RPMI can offer financial advice. It is strongly recommended that you seek independent financial advice before making any decisions about your pensions or retirement planning.

 

Case study_Lee

Lee Davies

  • Member since 1986
  • Currently in Cross Country Trains Section (transferred from

       EWS in 2003)

 

“I joined the Scheme at the age of 18... ‘the old-hand’ drivers told me to do that!!

I’ve been paying in since 1986, but as I transferred my benefits into the XC section, my membership starts in 1992 due to higher pensionable pay.

For me, the main benefits are 4x salary for death in service, along with two-thirds final salary or 40/60ths on completion of 40 years.
 
I hope to retire between the age of 58 and 62 and plan to travel and relax, knowing I don't have to set an alarm clock unless I want to!!

From my own experience, I’d say join as early as you can and save the maximum you can afford into BRASS. I’d also say it’s very important to take independent financial advice before deciding how to plan your finances.”

Lee has kindly contributed this case study as a personal viewpoint of the RPS. Please note that neither the Trustee, your employer or RPMI can offer financial advice. It is strongly recommended that you seek independent financial advice before making any decisions about your pensions or retirement planning.

 

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