John Smith was born in 1961. He joined British Rail: Eastern Region in York as a Technician Apprentice in 1977. He was sponsored by British Rail to become a Chartered Engineer and graduated from Loughborough University in 1982. He then worked on the Crewe remodelling project on the overhead line works and worked at Bounds Green and subsequently at Longsight for InterCity. He then became Fleet Engineer for InterCity Cross Country based at Birmingham and then was appointed as the Production Director for the shadow Anglia Franchise/Anglia Railways. He then worked on open access development for GB Railways and their Hull Trains franchise. He then founded GB Railfreight, becoming their Managing Director. He has also served as Chief Executive Officer of Hector Rail.