Network Rail creates new managing director, northern portfolio: Manchester Victoria station

Thursday 6 Oct 2016

Network Rail creates new managing director, northern portfolio


Network Rail today announced the creation of several new senior leadership roles to strengthen customer focus and business performance. The changes include creating a new managing director for the northern portfolio who will look after the huge railway upgrade plan under way in the north of England.

The changes include:

  • Creating a new managing director for the northern portfolio. The post, reporting to the managing director England and Wales, will join-up future rail expansion, modernisation and investment across the north of England. They will oversee planning, investment and the delivery of projects across the North where Transport for the North (TfN) are/will be the funder.
  • Creating a new chief operating officer (COO) in each of Network Rail’s route businesses in England & Wales who will exclusively focus on delivering a safe, reliable and punctual railway, every day 
  • Under the COO, maintenance and operations will be split into their respective disciplines with a new route head of operations and a new route head of maintenance. This will bring more focus to these unique disciplines and aims to improve the sharing of best practice and techniques
  • A new lead for business development will be added to each route who will seek to attract private capital and third-party funding for rail improvements across their respective region
  • Project sponsorship in the routes will be strengthened with a route project sponsorship director will work to enable more robust specification and management of enhancements

Today’s announcement creates a structure that supports the devolution agenda whilst ensuring the holistic network-wide benefits of a railway system are maintained. Network Rail will work with the DfT and TfN on the details for this new working relationship.

Announcing the new MD, Mark Carne, chief executive, said: “We are appointing a ‘railway upgrade tsar 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. Better railways are a great driver for delivering more jobs, housing and economic growth.”

 “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.”

Chris Grayling, secretary of state for transport, said: “Passengers are set to benefit from huge levels of investment in our railway across the north. I welcome the focus that Network Rail is bringing to future investment in the north.” 

David Brown, chief executive of Transport for the North, said: “The announcement of this important role which will lead a northern investment organisation within Network Rail and is a major step forward for the North. It provides both focus and empowerment. It is a pioneering move.  We welcome this news and look forward to Network Rail working in close collaboration with both Transport for the North and Rail North as, together, we work on delivering transformational change benefitting  passengers, freight operators and the economy.”

Phil Whittingham, Managing Director, Virgin Trains on the west coast: “We are currently enjoying the best punctuality performance on the west coast for a decade thanks to the efforts of the combined management teams of Virgin Trains and Network Rail London North Western route. This new role ensures that key operational relationship and structure remains in place while providing focus and support for all our investment plans for the future.”

Michael Holden, ex CEO of directly operated railways who Network Rail asked to look into an organisational solution for the north, said: “There is no single 'magic bullet' organisational structure that will meet the needs of all stakeholders whilst remaining operationally robust. The proposals being taken forward now 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."

Commenting on the other route organisational changes, Mark added: “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.” 


Notes to editors:


  1. *Network Rail launched an in-depth review following a recommendation of the Shaw Report to create a new Northern route. This review concluded that the disadvantages (cost, disruption caused by this very significant organisational change) outweighed the benefits. Instead a recommendation came out that the day-to-day operational routes should remain and be overlaid by a new northern investment organisation headed by one person who could be that single point of contact for key regional funders and stakeholders and for the strategy, planning and delivery of investment across the north 


  1. It is envisaged that all these changes will be implement in spring 2017



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We own, operate and develop Britain's railway infrastructure; that's 20,000 miles of track, 30,000 bridges, tunnels and viaducts and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations. We run 20 of the UK's largest stations while all the others, over 2,500, are run by the country's train operating companies.

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