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Howard Smith joining Crossrail from TfL London Rail

Howard Smith, chief operating officer at TfL London Rail and a member of RTM’s editorial board, is to join Crossrail next month as its new operations director.

Smith – widely credited as a driving force behind the success of the London Overground concession – will lead Crossrail’s operational and customer service strategy, defining the structure of the new railway’s operating and maintenance organisations as well as leading on the arrangements for the future Crossrail operating concession.

Smith, a well-liked figure who has had a long career with London’s railways, also led the £1bn East London Line extension project. He is always a popular speaker and is known for making incisive analogies and for always pressing the case for rail.

The London Reconnections site has a glowing tribute to Smith from a TfL colleague, which notes his “straightforward skill of mastering the changing day to day knowledge required to run a large transport organisation…that is a huge task which should never be underestimated.”

Crossrail chief executive Andrew Wolstenholme said: “Howard Smith has significant and diverse railway experience having overseen the creation of London Overground and worked on DLR, national rail, London Underground and the successful 2012 Games. His knowledge of railway operations and the delivery of high-quality rail services in London and the southeast is unrivalled.”

Smith will report jointly to Crossrail chief executive Andrew Wolstenholme and LU’s Mike Brown.

Smith, a former station master at Richmond and London Bridge, joined the DLR in 1998, led the City Airport and Woolwich Arsenal extensions, and led the planning for the three-car capacity upgrade. He has been COO at Tfl’s London Rail division since 2004.

Smith, as an RTM editorial board member, has been a frequent contributor to RTM.

See for example him responding to a reader’s concerns about Overground capacity and GOBLIN electrification here, coverage of his talk at Infrarail 2012 here, our interview with him on his thoughts on ever-rising demand for rail services in London here and our major interview with him on London Overground the orbital rail network here.

Smith told us then: ““When I joined British Rail 25-odd years ago, demand was static, possibly slightly declining. Now, it’s the use of cars in London that is static and in fact declining, while the use of public transport is growing every year. The appetite for infrastructure development in London is more like, in some ways, that in an Asian city than it is in great parts of Europe and North America. It really is a truly exciting time to be working in public transport and in railways and in particular in London.”

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