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NR’s new chair announced alongside governance reform

Professor Richard Parry-Jones is to take up the role of chairman of Network Rail when Rick Haythornthwaite steps down.

Professor Parry-Jones worked for Ford for 38 years, rising to become group vice president in charge of global product development and chief technical officer, and he is now a council member of the Royal Academy of Engineering and ofBangorUniversity, pro chancellor ofLoughboroughUniversityand a visiting professor in the faculty of engineering. He also co-chairs, with Vince Cable, the UK Automotive Council.

His appointment as non-executive director and chairman designate will be made by Network Rail’s board later this month, and confirmed at the AGM in July.

Haythornthwaite said: “Richard brings a wealth of experience and insight from his time with Ford, one of the great global companies. In recent years he has brought that experience to bear in the engineering sector and public policy area in this country; co-chairing the Automotive Council and as pro chancellor of Loughborough University. That breadth of knowledge and expertise will be of huge benefit to Network Rail as we strive to deliver our core purpose of improving the railway and delivering value for money both to our customers and the taxpayer. I wish him every success in the role.”

Professor Parry-Jones called it a “great honour” and said: “I very much look forward to working with my fellow directors and supporting the executive team in continuing the strong progress being made to make up for lost time during past decades of underinvestment. I am encouraged by the strong cross-party support for increased investment in our railways to deliver a better service to our customers and to put in place the foundation stones that will provide better value for taxpayers in the future.”

Network Rail has also announced its intention to appoint a non-executive ‘public interest director’ to represent taxpayers during board discussions.

The board’s current senior independent director, Steve Russell, has decided not to stand for re-election at the 2012 AGM. His position will be taken by Keith Ludeman, who has been a member of the board since July 2011 and, given his vast experience in the industry, is particularly focused on the issues of performance and operating company relationships.

Network Rail is also planning further governance changes including reducing its number of members from around 80 to 40, with industry representatives no longer sitting as members but instead liaising with Network Rail using other channels. This will allow “more effective and detailed discussions”, subject to confirmation at the AGM.

It is also to set up quarterly scrutiny panels, and a scrutiny sub-committee on remuneration. 

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