Our August issue comes out almost to the day that Andrew Haines OBE will take over as chief executive of Network Rail. Speaking to Mark Carne for this month’s issue, he said he was confident that the positive culture change he has seen take root will continue to grow under Andrew’s leadership. We wish him well.
I’m sure the industry will eagerly welcome Andrew back to the railway; even those who take enjoyment in dismissing new appointments from outside the industry. It’s an argument they’d have trouble winning in Andrew’s case.
Though he has spent the best part of 10 years with the Civil Aviation Authority, Andrew’s familiarity with track and train go back much further. His working life began on the railway, attending to misplaced bags and briefcases as a left luggage clerk at London Victoria. An alumni of the British Rail general management scheme, Andrew would later become managing director of South West Trains before leading FirstGroup’s rail division.
Not since Iain Coucher in 2007 has Network Rail appointed a chief executive with such a wealth of railway experience. David Higgins joined Network Rail directly from London’s Olympic Delivery Authority and Mark Carne was more familiar with the construction of colossal offshore oil rigs than railways when he arrived in 2013.
The Department for Transport (DfT) wants to see a much more integrated approach between Network Rail and train operators in future. Appointing someone who already knows something about troublesome timetables and union diplomacy will help do just that.
It will be interesting to find out if Andrew recognises the industry he has rejoined. There will be many familiar faces eager to rekindle past acquaintances but will he see advances or deterioration, evolution or regression?
This month, I sat down with the ORR’s director of railway safety and chief inspector of railways, Ian Prosser, to discuss the conclusions he has drawn from the regulator’s annual review of railway safety. Issues such as trespass and level crossing safety feature prominently. Andrew may feel as though he never left.
But some of the topics raised show an industry which is becoming more mindful for the health and wellbeing of its workforce. Occupational health issues are being pursued with zeal – the sign of a sector waking up to its latent responsibilities.
The theme of health and wellbeing runs through several pieces in this issue. We’ve delved into the world of cycle to work schemes and spoken to the railway’s very own European Judo champion, gaining an insight into the value that many of our colleagues put on sport and exercise.
I think there are aspects of the industry that Andrew won’t recognise. Passenger journeys have risen considerably in the past 10 years, most routes are now benefitting from new rolling stock and franchises have changed hands – multiple times in some cases.
Andrew will have seen the media coverage depicting an industry mired down by poor timetabling and regular spells of disruption. Hopefully, he will instead feel it’s an industry that has changed for the better and that is attempting to learn from its mistakes.