Virgin Rail Group was keen to stress continuity at the top as Phil Whittingham, Director Finance, stepped up to become the Lead executive and Phil Bearpark, Production Director took over as Director operations and Customer Service.
The moves follow Chief Executive Tony Collins’ decision to quit and Chris Gibb’s move to Network Rail as a non-executive director. Collins will stay on as an advisor at Virgin.
The new management team will be overseen by Virgin’s Patrick McCall and Stagecoach’s Martin Griffiths, both executive chairmen. Virgin Trains’ top performing staff were singled out for praise by Sir Brian Souter, Stagecoach Group Chairman.
‘Virgin Trains is a fantastic partnership between two innovative transport groups. Tony, the wider management team and the thousands of people at the sharp end of delivering the train service for customers have done a superb job of making our joint vision of transforming rail travel a reality. There is more growth to come and the team we have in place will ensure we have continuity and experience to build on these achievements,’ Sir Brian said.
Chris Gibb, 50, joined Virgin in May 2003, previously he was managing director of Wales and Borders trains. A career railwayman Chris joined British Rail as a clerical officer from school in 1981. He spent 20 years working his way up in a variety of operational roles throughout Britain.
Patrick McGrath remains as Director Human Resources, Graham Leech, Executive Director Commercial, and Andy Cross, Director Business Support. All three have more than a decade of experience at Virgin Trains.
Phil Whittingham became Director, Finance on 1 January 2008. A Chartered Accountant Phil joined the company from KPMG’s Birmingham office in August 1999, where he worked closely with Virgin Trains.
Phil Bearpark has been with Virgin Trains since the franchise started in 1997. He originally trained as an engineer and is a Chartered Mechanical Engineer and a Member of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers. In his spare time he enjoys restoring old motorcycles.
Chris Gibb also paid tribute to the staff at Virgin. ‘Delivering great customer service truly is a team effort, requiring not only great staff, which we have in spades at Virgin Trains, but also co-operation between the different stakeholders across the industry.
‘I am especially proud of the part I have played in bringing these important individual parties together to deliver improved performance. That’s the foundation which great service is built on.’
Chris was seconded to Network Rail for six months last year and led a taskforce focused on improving performance and reliability on the West Coast main line.