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Bombardier’s Dr Francis Paonessa is new Network Rail IP boss

Network Rail has picked Simon Kirby’s replacement as managing director of infrastructure projects – Dr Francis Paonessa, the boss of Bombardier Transportation in the UK.

Kirby, whose work during CP4 has earned many plaudits, is leaving in June to head up HS2 Ltd alongside his former boss, Sir David Higgins, who is now chairman there.

Dr Paonessa currently leads Bombardier’s combined new build and services business in the UK, managing 3,700 staff at eight Bombardier sites and 23 customer locations.

Network Rail chief executive Mark Carne said: “The scale and complexity of Network Rail’s investment programme makes this one of the most challenging and exciting roles in Britain today. Francis brings with him significant leadership experience from the rail industry, including a strong focus on both workforce and passenger safety. I would like to welcome him to Network Rail and know that he will continue Simon’s excellent work as we build a bigger, better railway for Britain.”

Infrastructure Projects (IP) underwent big changes under Kirby, aimed at becoming a more supplier-focused, transparent and open organisation. Though his vision of IP as operating in a more competitive marketplace as deliverer of services to Network Rail, as the organisation became "a group of companies", has not come to fruition quite as he first described, the way it interacts with contractors at all tiers has certainly changed.

IP will deliver £25bn of infrastructure renewals and enhancements during CP6, Network Rail says, “aimed at delivering a bigger, better railway enabling more trains to run, at higher speeds with more seats and better facilities at stations up and down the country”.

Network Rail credits Dr Paonessa with successful handling of “large scale, complex projects” and a major culture change programme, as well as productivity boosts, significant contract wins (including the orders from Southern, TfL and Crossrail rolling stock).

His background as a mechanical design engineer has been in shipbuilding and aeronautics as well as rail, and he is a Chartered Engineer and a Fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

His salary will be £425,000 with a maximum bonus opportunity of 20% – “a very substantially lower incentive opportunity than for the current incumbent”, Network Rail said.

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email  


Gary   08/10/2014 at 10:54

I`m sure he is worth every penny of the salary - well done Francis and Good Luck with your New Role.

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