Chris Stokes was a British Rail Signalling & Telecommunications Sponsored Engineering Student, studying at the University of Cambridge. In 1971 he became a Management Trainee in British Rail: London Midland Region, before undertaking various front-line posts from 1975 to 1986. He then joined InterCity as Executive Director Strategy & Planning, working in this capacity between 1986 to 1988. He then served as Deputy Director of Network SouthEast from 1988 to 1992. In 1993 he joined the Office of Passenger Rail Franchising as Deputy Director between 1993 and 1998. In 1999 he served as the Executive Director of Strategic Rail Authority until 2005.