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Network Rail secondment for Virgin boss

Virgin’s chief operating officer has agreed to a secondment at Network Rail, following the operator’s criticism of Network Rail for the state of the infrastructure on the West Coast Main Line, contributing to poor performance.

Chris Gibb will join Network Rail for the remainder of the year to improve the performance of infrastructure on the southern end of the WCML. He will report to Robin Gisby, Network Rail’s managing director of network operations and will work closely with Jo Kaye, route managing director of the London North Western Route and her team.

For period 2, Virgin came in bottom of the PPM table, with a performance of just 82.9% compared to the network’s average at 92.3%.

Virgin released a statement which read: “We are concerned with the lack of focus on immediate improvement, as we and our customers must see short-term progress, especially as the Olympics and Paralympics will be a showcase for the industry.

“We have repeatedly told the ORR and NR that we must have a reliable infrastructure if we are to continue the remarkable growth of recent years, when we have seen the number of customers double to 30 million a year. Anything short of this will affect the potential of the West Coast Mainline to continue its success.”

Gibb will retain a number of his current duties and responsibilities during his secondment.

David Higgins, chief executive, Network Rail, said: “We warmly welcome this collaborative approach by Virgin to work with us and the other train operators to drive up performance on this key part of our network.”

Chief executive officer of Virgin Trains, Tony Collins, said: “Chrisis one of the best operators in the industry and his experience will prove invaluable to Network Rail in delivering the improvements to performance our customers rightly demand. We have a strong working relationship with the team at Network Rail and this short term secondment seemed the natural thing to do.”

Tell us what you think – have your say below, or email us directly at [email protected]


Chris Williams-Lilley   20/06/2012 at 15:26

With Chris Gibbs'' secondment at Network Rail, my belief that 'building a highly collaborative culture' within Network Rail is starting to really pay off. Organisations need people like Chris Gibb, Robin Gisby and Sir David Higgins who can connect, show empathy, demonstrate great leadership and create a 'culture' that works towards shared ownership of problems [and TOGETHER find the solutions]. A great step forward, but there is a long journey ahead. - Chris Williams-Lilley (Founder, Rail Champions).

Andy Norris   27/06/2012 at 07:33

An exciting breakthrough in the industry which follows on from changes we are seeing in Alliances between NR and TOCs. Of particular credit is the timing relative to the franchise diary. Andy Norris (partner, CPC Project Services LLP)

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