Described as a “railway upgrade Tsar for the North” by NR chief executive Mr Mark Carne, the new post-holder, who will be appointed by Spring 2017, will report to NR’s managing director for England and Wales, and will oversee planning, investment and delivery of projects set to be funded by Transport for the North.
“This new role will ensure a clear focus on future rail expansion, modernisation, and investment across the whole of the Northern Powerhouse,” Carne says. “Building on the record investment in recent years, this person will bring together the needs of passengers, train operators, and regional bodies to ensure a truly integrated rail strategy to join up the great cities of the north.”
In addition, a new chief operating officer is set to be appointed for each of NR’s route businesses in England and Wales, with maintenance operations set to be split into their respective disciplines and new heads of operations and maintenance for specific routes appointed.
NR says this will bring greater focus to these disciplines and aims to improve sharing of best practice and techniques. A new lead for business development will also be added to each route with the aim of attracting private capital and third-party funding for rail improvements.
The management changes are the results of a review launched by NR following the Shaw Report’s recommendations to create a new Northern route. However, contrary to the report, the review said that creating a new northern investment organisation led by one person would be more beneficial. This individual will act as a single point of contact for key regional funders and stakeholders and lead strategy, planning and delivery of investment across the north.
NR subsequently consulted with Mr Michael Holden, former managing director of Connex South Eastern and the founder of South Eastern Trains, over how these changes might play out.
While Holden says there is “no magic bullet organisational structure that will meet the needs of all stakeholders” he believes that the proposals “represent the best way of addressing the clearly articulated needs of northern stakeholders for a more joined up approach to the development of the railway network across the north.”
NR says that the changes create a structure that supports the devolution agenda while ensuring the holistic network-wide benefits of the railway system are maintained.
“Putting our customers first, driving better performance and attracting external funding for railway improvements are key priorities for our business and these changes will better prepare our devolving routes to meet those challenges,” Carne says.