Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Race to replace Coucher - latest

Exciting news from the Grauniad!

Olympic infrastructure chief is front runner for Network Rail job

David Higgins's name expected to be presented to board today, with a senior Corus executive also on shortlist

The Gruan then lists some powerful blue chip organisations with which Higgins has been involved over the years.

Strangely it omits to mention one company where the experience he gained might actually be relevant.

Fortunately Eye can help fill in this particular gap...

Since April this year David Higgins has been a non-executive director of little known company... Network Rail!

Just fancy that.

UPDATE: This from Capt John Yossarian...

Surely Mr Higgins is covered by the Network Rail variation of Catch 22.

If you haven't any connection with the railways and want the CEO job you don't know what you are letting yourself in for and you need to be protected from yourself.

If you do have a connection with the railways, you do know what you are letting yourself in for and you need to be protected from yourself.

UPDATE: This from everyone...

David Higgins it is!

UPDATE: This, surprisingly, from Zola Budd...

Will we now see some new Olympic sports at Network Rail?

Wrestling (control of the track back from ATOC), Skating (on thin ice), (In for the) High Jump, Shooting (oneself in the foot), fencing (platform ends), curling (up with embarrassment), (political) football?

UPDATE: This from Steve Strong...

As David Higgins has no experience of the railways Network Rail needs to give very serious consideration to the appointment of a Chief Operating Officer to support the new CEO in his role.

And if the infrastructure controller is serious about focusing on the needs of the customer perhaps it should look for a senior operator within the TOCs or FOCs to fill this role.

UPDATE: This from Network Rail...

New chief executive for Network Rail

Network Rail has announced the appointment of David Higgins as chief executive.

He succeeds Iain Coucher, who is stepping down at the end of October. David, currently chief executive of the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA), will take up his new position on 1 February 2011. David Higgins is currently a non-executive director of Network Rail, a role he will continue until he starts as chief executive.

Before joining the ODA, he was the chief executive of Lend Lease, an international property and construction company from 1995 to 2002 before joining English Partnerships as chief executive (2003-05).

Network Rail’s chairman Rick Haythornthwaite said: “We recruited David to the board earlier this year because of his track record in leading large organisations, delivering demanding projects and managing a complex range of commercial interests and wider stakeholder sensitivities.

“With Iain Coucher deciding it is the right time to leave Network Rail, David emerged as the outstanding candidate to lead Network Rail into a challenging new era following an extensive search process.

“There are significant challenges and opportunities ahead for both Network Rail and the industry such as the comprehensive spending review, the McNulty value for money review and the planning of HS2. Public, passengers, politicians and the industry are demanding a better, safer railway delivered at a lower cost where success will depend on pervasive collaboration. David is well-placed to lead both Network Rail and the industry forward to meet these challenges.”

Commenting on his appointment, David Higgins said: “It has been a privilege to lead the ODA over the last five years, and I am leaving with the Olympic Park on time, within budget and with the finish line in sight.

“Looking forward, Network Rail is one of the most important companies in Britain – an efficient railway underpins a modern economy – and therefore a challenge I could not turn down.

“Network Rail and the rail industry have transformed the train service in Britain in the last eight years: trains run on time and the railway is safer than ever. My priority is to bring Network Rail and the industry closer so that together we can continue to improve service, efficiency and safety and add much needed capacity to a railway network that is nearly full.”

In the interim period prior to David Higgins’ start date and following the departure of Iain Coucher, Peter Henderson (director, Asset Management) will take on the role of acting chief executive.

Hitachi - not waving but drowning

Telegrammed by Ithuriel
Hitachi is offering a masterclass in political lobbying as it fights to keep the IEP alive

It can only help that Bombardier and Siemens have their hands tied since they are DfT's reserve bidder.

But the County Durham Development Company seems to have let a small cat out of the bag.

A study it has sponsored says that the proposed £40million Newton Aycliffe factory would bring £660m benefit to the region, or £48 for every £1 spent by government.

So, with Britain's remaining train factory facing an empty order book if it fails to win Thameslink, the Government is being asked to cough up £13.75 million towards the start-up cost of yet another train factory?

Talk about contributing to the cost of the hangman's rope!