Awards, contracts & appointments


Merseyrail boss takes up top job at West Midlands Trains

Jan Chaudhry-van der Velde has been appointed new managing director of West Midlands Trains Ltd, taking up the job from the same role at Merseyrail.

The new operator, which will take over the West Midlands Rail franchise on 10 December, is a joint venture between JR East, Mitsui, and Abellio – which also runs Merseyrail.

Chaudhry-van der Velde spent three years as Abellio’s deputy managing director before taking up the role of managing director at the company’s Liverpool-based operator, which he has held since 2015.

In addition, he has also held a number of director-level roles across the UK rail industry, including as operations director at South West Trains, commercial director at Southern and operations & retail director at Thameslink.

“It’s a real honour to take on this role at such an exciting time for the West Midlands,” Chaudhry-van der Velde commented. “The near £1bn of investment going onto the network over the coming years will deliver significant improvements to our customers’ journeys.

“Performance and customer satisfaction levels at Merseyrail were best in class during my time there, and I am looking forward to delivering similar improvements at West Midlands Trains.”

Merseyrail’s new MD will be Chaudhry-van der Velde’s former deputy, Andy Heath, who first joined the franchise as a trains manager in 1998 and has been operations director since 2005.

Heath said: “I am extremely pleased to be taking on this new position, having worked at Merseyrail over the last two decades. During this time, we have delivered one of the best performing franchises in the country – an achievement that I will endeavour to maintain under my stewardship.

“My focus as managing director will be on three major projects: to deliver the new trains, modernise ticketing and improve customer facilities at our stations. This will not only drive Merseyrail’s success, but also support the ambitions of the Liverpool City Region.”

The new franchise was awarded in August, with the JV then granting a major £680m contract for 100 new trains to Bombardier and Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles (CAF).

Since the initial announcement, Abellio, JR East and Mitsui have also confirmed that they will be splitting the franchise into two, with services in the Birmingham area to stay as West Midlands Trains, while west coast services will be renamed London Northwestern.

The franchise was initially intended to change hands in October this year, but the DfT pushed the date back to December in order to grant more time for the government to make a decision.

Top image: Abellio

Have you got a story to tell? Would you like to become an RTM columnist? If so, click here


Mmlred   14/11/2017 at 10:39

Obligatory reminder that the proposed livery in the picture shown is one of the worst ever conceived.

Andrew Gwilt   14/11/2017 at 11:42

He probably the right kind of man to take over as the new MD of West Midlands Trains when the new franchise starts in December.

Andrew JG   14/11/2017 at 14:52

What about the new trains that WM Trains have ordered when the new franchise starts on the 10th December. Could WMTrains Bombardier Aventra EMU’s might be classified as Class 70x or Class 71x. And the CAF Civity DMU’s could be classified as Class 18x or Class 19x.

GW   14/11/2017 at 16:26

Yet to come across anybody who likes the proposed new livery. Hopefully we can avoid the RMT disputes in the West Midlands by both parties acting like adults.

Add your comment


rail technology magazine tv

more videos >

latest rail news

Tram passengers demand better value for money from services

21/03/2018Tram passengers demand better value for money from services

  Satisfaction with value for money for tram passengers has dropped slightly, the latest Tram Passenger Survey has revealed. Fare-payi... more >
West of England to get £9.45bn economic boost from new rail partnership plan

21/03/2018West of England to get £9.45bn economic boost from new rail partnership plan

Rail companies across the west of England have set out a long-term plan for the region’s railway, which will boost the economy by £9.45... more >
First Virgin Azuma trains arrive in UK after two-month journey from Japan

21/03/2018First Virgin Azuma trains arrive in UK after two-month journey from Japan

Two brand new Hitachi trains completed their two month journey from Japan yesterday, arriving at Teesport, Middlesborough. The two five-car trai... more >

editor's comment

23/01/2018Out with the old...

Despite a few disappointing policy announcements, especially for the electrification aficionados amongst us, 2017 was, like Darren Caplan writes on page 20, a year generally marked by positive news for the rail industry. We polished off the iconic Ordsall Chord (p32), hit some solid milestones on Thameslink (p40), progressed on ambitious rolling stock orders (p16), and finally started moving forward on HS2 (p14) ‒ paving the way for a New Ye... read more >

last word

Encouraging youngsters to be safe on the railway

Encouraging youngsters to be safe on the railway

This summer, Arriva Group's CrossCountry and the Scout Association joined to launch a new partnership to promote rail safety among young people. Chris Leech MBE, business community manager at the... more > more last word articles >

'the sleepers' daily blog

How biometrics can help improve health and safety measures on railway construction projects

20/03/2018How biometrics can help improve health and safety measures on railway construction projects

In this article biometric identity, time and attendance specialists Donseed look at how biometric technology is already starting to enhance health and safety measures on railway construction projects. Advances in technology are starting to transform the way in which the rail network in the UK is managed, operated and maintained. There is ... more >
read more blog posts from 'the sleeper' >


Smart Ticketing: The way ahead

13/03/2018Smart Ticketing: The way ahead

Jacqueline Starr, managing director of customer experience at the Rail Delivery Group (RDG), runs through the nationwide progress in rolling out ... more >
A benchmark year for HS2

13/03/2018A benchmark year for HS2

Jim Crawford, managing director of Phase 1 at HS2 Ltd, discusses the many critical activities set to take place this year as the mammoth high-spe... more >
The North has a plan

13/03/2018The North has a plan

There has always been an incredible thirst for change in the north. Now, there is finally a plan robust and forward-thinking enough to make it ha... more >
EWR: Getting it right

13/03/2018EWR: Getting it right

Peter Austin, delivery director at East West Rail Company (EWRco), argues that completing the link between Oxford and Cambridge as quickly as pos... more >

rail industry focus

  • 08/12/2017A game changer for Midland Metro

    The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) updates RTM’s Luana Salles on the latest projects taking place across the growing Midland Metro...
  • 09/11/2017Testing tomorrow's technology today

    David Brazier, site manager and area sales manager for the UK & Ireland at OMICRON electronics, tells RTM’s Luana Salles about the major...
  • 09/11/2017What next for safety?

    As rail businesses edge towards their target of zero injuries, improving safety performance can plateau. Amey’s sector director for rail, Lee...
View all News


Transforming travel in the north west

06/02/2018Transforming travel in the north west

RTM’s Josh Mines talks to Robin Davis, head of new trains at TransPennine Express (TPE), about the huge rolling stock change journey the co... more >