Friday, September 07, 2007

All change at the top

The Guardian newspaper reports today that FGW has appointed a new "over-arching" manager, Andrew Haines, while managing director Alison Forster focuses temporarily on the company's high-speed train services. I'm not sure what this means in terms of my forthcoming interview with a senior manager, but I will give the company a call on Monday and find out.

In the meantime, what do we know about Mr Haines? Here are five interesting things I found on the internet (I won't say "facts" as they are not double-sourced and I don't want to find myself being accused of "sexing-up" the blog):

- he's from Merthyr Tydfil in Wales (but we won't hold that against him, ha ha, only joking)

- he once had a holiday job in the lost luggage office at Victoria, and joined British Rail as a graduate in 1985 (a lifetime of trains!)

- according to one transport correspondent, he once shed four stone in as many months (clearly has some serious self-control)

- in an address to a the International Rail Operators Young Professionals in 2006, he reportedly told his audience that plans often fail because people look too much to the future and that instead, you should “Live in the world you are in” (sage advice indeed)

- finally, and best of all, Mr Haines agreed to sit down and listen to the concerns of commuters in an interview in 2004, when he was managing director of South West Trains (hurrah, there is hope for us!)

Andrew Haines is also himself a commuter. I like him already, now let's see what he can do.


FGWDriver said...

As an employee (train driver),I can tell you that it is common knowledge throughout the company that the ex-Wessex and ex-Link companies have been a total headache for the senior management. FGW only want to run HST services.
Ex-Link(Thames Trains)services carry far,far more passengers than the HST side of the company and FGW just don't want to deal with those commuters on the suburban services. FGW have already tried to off-load local services to Banbury (they wanted Chiltern to take them over).These companies just bid for as many franchises as possible but with no real ideas on how they are going to run them successfully and no thought on how any changes may affect the users of these services.

Insider said...

You know, Alison Forster is also a commuter too, every day from Didcot to Swindon and back on FGW trains and she spends most of her time talking to people. I give her credit for that.

Andrew Haines is currently Alison Forster's boss as head of First Groups Rail Division but his job is more strategic than an MDs as he oversees 4 seperate companies and makes big plans. This would be the first time his responsibilities with First included the actual nitty gritty running of a company.

The funniest thing is that, although the Guardian claims that First Group confirmed their story, Alison doesn't know anything about it, nor does Andrew. Our esteemed CEO Mr Lockhead might, but if so, he hasn't told anybody.

It may very well be true that this is going to happen, but I'll sit on the fence for now.

I would suspect that this chnage, if it happens will not impact your meeting. If I was a gambling man, my shortlist of names for who you would meet with would be (in o hierarchical order) Glenda Lamont (Customer Services Director, reports directly to Alison), Barbara Hollman, (Head of Customer Excellance, Glenda's immediate subordinate) or Richard Green (Customer Services Manager,and Barabara's immediate subordinate).

I can try and find out if you want, or would you prefer the surprise?

I hate FGW said...

Oh yes, please find out for me, that would be good. I've been a bit busy, so haven't had much time to do my list of questions, but I think I'll keep it general, as no-one wants to read the answer to "why was the 1915 service late last Monday week?"

Anonymous said...

The BBC is reporting that Alison Forster will be in charge of "safety and performance" rather than concentrating on the HST routes. I believe that Alison's background was originally from the Engineering/safety side of things so this kind of makes sense.