Haines: It’s time for radical change

New public body Great British Railways (GBR) will not just be a reincarnation of Network Rail.

That’s according to NR Chief Executive Andrew Haines, who kicked off proceedings in the Rail Live seminar theatre today (June 16) with a keynote speech.

In what was also Haines’ first speech since being tasked with “establishing interim arrangements” for the creation of GBR, he moved to reassure Rail Live visitors that the organisation would not be a carbon copy of NR.

GBR is envisioned by the recently published government White Paper to absorb NR and all its functions, but to also take on additional responsibilities for timetabling, fares, planning and procuring new concessions-based passenger service contracts from private operators.

Asked by RAIL Managing Editor and Events Director Nigel Harris to address fears that GBR would be dominated by the engineering and infrastructure side of the industry, Haines replied: “We want to be an integrated part of the system, but as an equal partner.

“I ask you to hold me to account for this, because it’s not worth waiting 30 years for legislation just to reinvent what we have already. It’s time for radical change.” 

On the prospect of being asked to lead GBR on a permanent basis, Haines added: “We don’t know that . I don’t think any previous NR CEOs have been anointed. 

“I’m more interested in being NR’s last CEO. Not because I’m not proud of what we’ve achieved, but because we need to harness the best of NR, learn the lessons of privatisation, and bring the dynamism of the private sector.”

Haines also said that safety would remain the number one priority while the industry goes through a period of structural change, and that a formal transition plan could be expected by the end of this autumn. 

  • Full coverage of Haines’ speech and others in the Rail Live seminar feature will be included in RAIL 934. 

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