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West Coast appointments

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Phil Whittingham remains as the managing director for services on what was formerly known as the InterCity West Coast franchise as he moves from Virgin Trains to Avanti West Coast.

In an unusual move, Phil is joined by all of the former Virgin Trains management team in running the new West Coast Partnership franchise.

The team is as follows: Mark Whitehouse, executive finance director; Natasha Grice, executive people director; Sarah Copley, executive commercial director; John Sullivan, executive chief information officer; and Richard Scott, executive corporate affairs director.

Phil joined Virgin Trains in 1999 as group management accountant having worked closely with the company while working as an accountant at KPMG from 1996.

He was appointed finance director in 2007 before taking over as managing director in 2013.

FirstGroup and Trenitalia, the joint venture in charge of Avanti, also announced that Caroline Donaldson, who is currently the bid director at FirstGroup, will become the managing director of the West Coast Partnership Development (WCPD). WCPD will provide a range of design and development support for future high-speed rail services between the North and London in collaboration with HS2 Ltd and the Department for Transport. Caroline has been the bid director for FirstGroup since 2010.

Steve Montgomery, managing director of First Rail, said: “Phil and Caroline bring great experience, insight and drive to deliver the significant improvements we’re committed to while also establishing the plans and initiatives which will form the bedrock of future high speed rail services.”