Awards, contracts & appointments

15.11.17

NR sets up two new route supervisory boards to spur private cash

Network Rail has launched two additional supervisory boards aimed at attracting external investment on the Chiltern, West Coast and West Midlands routes.

Both boards will be chaired by Geoff Inskip, appointed by Network Rail’s London North Western (LNW) business together with Virgin Trains, Chiltern Railways and West Midlands franchise winner Abellio.

This step is part of ‘In Partnership for Britain’s Prosperity’ – a rail industry plan to improve services for customers and improve positive impacts on communities.

The quarterly boards will oversee NR’s LNW route business, with a specific focus on the interaction between track and train. They will also aim to implement a long-term strategy, including helping win external funding to make the railway bigger and able to carry increased volumes of customers.

Network Rail has previously created similar boards for both the Great Western route and the Welsh network in an attempt to spur a closer relationship between the infrastructure manager and operators.

It is hoped that more direct contact between the key transport partners in these regions will encourage more investment in lines and a greater capacity to deal with passenger issues.

Inskip was extremely positive about the formation of new boards and said he hoped to provide greater integration between bodies and services.

“I am delighted to be appointed as chair of the West Coast team at this exciting time for Britain's railway,” he continued. “Working with rail industry partners and stakeholders, I’m looking forward to helping bring together ‘track and train’ in an integrated approach to driving improvements for passengers and business.”

Martin Frobisher, LNW route managing director at Network Rail, added: “I am thrilled to have Geoff at the helm of our supervisory boards, which are a pivotal step towards our transformation into one truly customer-focused railway team.

“We and the train companies have invited Geoff to hold to us firmly to account as we seek to be better at connecting workers to jobs, businesses to markets and people to their families and friends.”

Paul Whittingham, managing director of Virgin Trains on the West Coast route, also argued it was positive that NR was trying something different for route development.

He commented: “We have been running services on the West Coast for more than 20 years, and are always looking for better ways of doing things – whether that’s working together with Network Rail to improve punctuality, or spearheading digital ticketing for customers.

“We welcome Geoff to the supervisory board and look forward to working with him and the rest of the industry to bring even more benefits to customers, and the local communities the railway serves.”

Chiltern Railway MD Dave Penney welcomed the news, saying: “By working in partnership as one railway, we can continue to ensure delivery of a safe and reliable service while harnessing further investment and innovation to make improvements for the growing numbers of customers on the Chiltern route.”

Finally, Jan Chaudhry-van der Velde, the ex-Merseyrail boss who was announced yesterday as managing director of the new West Midlands Trains operator, added his voice.

“The railway is a highly integrated system, and that system performs best when the all the players are working together effectively,” he commented.

“The creation of these supervisory boards will help us pull in the same strategic direction and provide tangible benefits to our growing number of passengers.”

Top image: left to right. Whittingham; Inskip; Frobisher. Network Rail

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