Francis Paonessa, current managing director of Bombardier’s UK operation, will join Network Rail this summer to take up the role of managing director, infrastructure projects.
Dr Paonessa will be replacing Simon Kirby, who is leaving to join HS2 as chief executive. He will lead Network Rail’s infrastructure projects division in its delivery of £25bn of infrastructure renewals and enhancements over the next five-year control period (CP5).
In announcing the appointment, Mark Carne, Network Rail chief executive, said, ‘The scale and complexity of Network Rail’s investment programme makes this one of the most challenging and exciting roles in Britain today. Francis brings with him significant leadership experience from the rail industry, including a strong focus on both workforce and passenger safety.’
Appointed to take charge of Bombardier’s rolling stock operation in 2010, Francis reorganised the Derby-based train builder – the culmination of which was the winning of a £1.3bn contract to supply trains for Crossrail.
Trained as a mechanical engineer, Dr Paonessa worked in the defence industry, specifically naval shipbuilding, before entering the rail sector. His flair for managing multi-billion pound operations will stand him in good stead as he steers Network Rail Infrastructure Projects through CP5.