Born in Tamworth in the West Midlands, Mr Hince worked for British Rail as a technician in the signals and telecommunications department where he built up a working knowledge of the functions of signal box staff. But he has been somewhat non-plussed by the dispute.
He was under the impression a fortnight ago that Railtrack was offering a 5.7 per cent increase in compensation for past improvements in productivity. Since then the Government has made it clear that any offer should honour the strict limits on public-sector pay and the package was withdrawn.
'It's clear I'm not negotiating with Railtrack any more, but the Government. It is completely different from anything else I have experienced in industrial relations.'
He is known by managers as a straightforward negotiator. If there is one criticism it is that he is not always prepared to take on a troublesome executive. The problem in this dispute is that the horse-trading that goes on away from the negotiating table is simply not happening.