Image of Birmingham tram with City Hall in the background

Light rail expert appointed new Midlands Metro chair

Midland Metro Limited (MML), the operator of the West Midlands’ tram network has unveiled a new chairman.

Phil Hewitt has been appointed to the role and boasts over 30 years’ experience across the sector serving in senior roles, including serving as Metro Director at Transport for West Midlands (TfWM)

As well as serving as the TfWM Metro Director, Hewitt also has extensive experience within light rail, serving as the former chair of the tramway sector’s representative organisation, UKTram, and of the Light Rail Safety and Standards Board.

Hewitt will be supporting the board of directors as well as the MML management team as the metro looks at further expansion in the coming months and years.

“I’m delighted to be taking on this role at such an exciting time for the region’s tram system, with the construction of two new lines already well underway.” he said.

“The undoubted popularity of the tram amongst the travelling public is down to the hard work and dedication of the MML team, and I’m relishing the opportunity of working once more with the other board members and the new managing director as she implements her plans to ensure the organisation is ready for the future.

“By following the principles of ‘plan, do, review’, I’m confident that together we can drive the Metro’s popularity to new heights as we deliver the expansion of Metro services that will contribute to WMCA’s plans to transform mobility across the region.”

Hewitt started his career as a graduate trainee with the London Underground in 1988, before moving onto senior roles at London Tramlink and London Trams. He later became chief executive at Tramlink Nottingham and as chair led the Concessionaire through the NET Phase 2 project, working in close collaboration with the local authority, construction partners, and the operator to ensure the successful launch of services to Toton and Clifton South in 2015.

Image of Phil Hewitt

He currently holds a position as an executive consultant at global firm, WSP.

Anne Shaw, executive director TfWM, led the appointment process. She said: “West Midlands Metro is a crucial part of our regional transport network and key to our plans to decarbonise our transport and offer people sustainable, convenient and affordable alternatives to the car for their journeys.

“As a result it is going through a period of expansion and great change with new extensions under development and a doubling of the tram fleet.

“So we are delighted that Phil Hewitt, who knows West Midlands Metro well, is returning to us to give us the benefit of his vast experience.

“His expertise on the Metro board will be crucial in advising and guiding the organisation as it continues to grow and provides an improved service to passengers.”

Mr Hewitt will take up the position at MML in January, replacing the current chair Sophie Allison, who has recently been confirmed as managing director for the company.

In other news from the region, the Mayors of the West Midlands and Greater Manchester have joined forces to explore how to improve rail connections between the two regions.

Andy Street and Andy Burnham have convened a private sector group, chaired by infrastructure expert Sir David Higgins, to look at options to tackle one of the most congested and unreliable routes on the UK’s rail network.

This follows on from the Prime Minister’s pledge to work with Andy Street to enhance connectivity between Birmingham and Manchester, following the decision to scrap HS2 north of Handsacre.

Photo Credit: iStock

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