Virgin Trains bosses Tony Collins and Chris Gibbs quitting Branson's firmGosh!
— Gwyn Topham (@GwynTopham) October 7, 2013
UPDATE: Chris Gibb confirms he is to retire.
Eye doesn't believe a word of it! He'll be back!!!
UPDATE: This from Virgin Trains...
Virgin Rail Group (VRG) today (7 October 2013) confirmed details of its management team moving forward as Tony Collins, Chief Executive Officer and Chris Gibb, Chief Operating Officer announced plans to retire after combined service of nearly 25 years.
Both Tony and Chris will step down this month.
Tony, who has had nearly 14 years with Virgin Trains and nine years as Chief Executive Officer, said now was the right time to hand over to a new team with the decision over the next West Coast Main Line franchise scheduled for 2017. He will remain as a consultant to VRG, ensuring the company retains access to his vast knowledge and experience for its franchise bid strategy.
Chris has also announced his retirement, after 10 years with Virgin Trains including six as Chief Operating Officer. Chris, a career railwayman, is hugely respected across the industry. He recently spent time with Network Rail, advising them on how to deliver performance improvements across the West Coast Main Line route.
The new management team will be overseen by Joint Executive Chairmen Patrick McCall and Martin Griffiths from shareholders Virgin Group and Stagecoach Group. Both have been involved in the management and growth of the business for more than a decade and will now chair the monthly executive meeting and drive the bid and growth strategy.
Phil Whittingham, as Director of Finance, is stepping up to become the Lead Executive. Phil Bearpark, Production Director, will become Director Operations and Customer Service and will also be the safety system duty holder. Patrick McGrath remains as Director Human Resources, while Graham Leech, Executive Director Commercial, and Andy Cross, Director Business Support, will also continue in their current positions. Each of the Senior Management Team has more than a decade of experience at Virgin Trains and together will have full responsibility for delivering every aspect of the business performance on a day-to-day basis.
Sir Richard Branson said: “Tony has been a wonderful leader of Virgin Trains over the past nine years, spearheading the development of a world-leading railway which is loved by its customers. He combines a brilliant grasp of the details of running the business with a passion for its people and the passengers.
“Tony, Chris and the team at Virgin Trains have transformed the West Coast Main Line from a laughing stock into Europe’s busiest long distance rail service. We have cut journey times, improved service and radically changed people’s experiences. Tony is passing the baton to a hugely experienced senior management team at Virgin Trains who are focused on how we can make services even better for our customers on what is on the backbone of the UK rail network.”
Sir Brian Souter, Stagecoach Group Chairman, said: "Virgin Trains is a fantastic partnership between two innovative transport groups. Tony, the wider management team and the thousands of people at the sharp end of delivering the train service for customers have done a superb job of making our joint vision of transforming rail travel a reality. There is more growth to come and the team we have in place will ensure we have continuity and experience to build on these achievements."
Tony Collins said: “I have thoroughly enjoyed leading Virgin Trains and working with the wonderful staff to build a railway service that we can be truly proud of. We have come a long way in the last 10 years and we could not have done it without the amazing support of our people. We overcame all the odds last year and I know the team at Virgin Trains will carry on delivering the excellent customer service and innovation that we are famed for. It has been a great ride.”
Chris Gibb said: “Delivering great customer service truly is a team effort, requiring not only great staff, which we have in spades at Virgin Trains, but also co-operation between the different stakeholders across the industry. I am especially proud of the part I have played in bringing these important individual parties together to deliver improved performance. That's the foundation which great service is built on and I'm confident the team at Virgin Trains will continue to deliver further improvements to the service we provide for our customers.”