Scotland

Alex Hynes named as new ScotRail Alliance managing director

Alex Hynes Image copyright Arriva
Image caption Mr Hynes is currently managing director at Arriva Rail North

The new managing director of the ScotRail Alliance has been announced.

Alex Hynes, who is currently managing director at Arriva Rail North, will replace Phil Verster who is leaving the role to take up a new job in England.

Mr Verster had faced pressure in recent months because of ScotRail's failure to meet targets on punctuality and reliability.

Mr Hynes said he was excited to be part of plans to "vastly improve services".

He will join the rail operator later in the year.

ScotRail Alliance was formed as a partnership involving Abellio ScotRail and Network Rail, intended to improve performance through cooperation between the rail operator and the rail infrastructure company.

Mr Hynes has almost 20 years of industry experience, and has been managing director of the Northern franchise for the past three and half years.

He said: "I am delighted to have been appointed to lead the ScotRail Alliance, this cutting-edge arrangement, which brings together the management of ScotRail and Network Rail to deliver the very best for customers.

"The ScotRail Alliance is delivering one of the largest programmes of investment, change and modernisation since the railway was built. To be part of that, and the plans to vastly improve services and capacity for customers, is hugely exciting for me."

Image copyright PA

Dominic Booth, managing director of Abellio UK, said: "Alex has a proven track record delivering rail improvement and investment programmes, and is the ideal replacement.

"We are currently investing in a fleet of 70 new faster, longer and greener trains, which will transform the rail travel experience of our customers and we are delighted to have Alex in place to lead this work."

Mark Carne, chief executive of Network Rail added: "We are very pleased that Alex is joining Network Rail to lead the ScotRail Alliance.

"This is one of the most pressurised, high profile roles in the whole railway industry and we look forward to helping him succeed."

'Difficult role'

Mr Verster, who has been in the managing director post at the ScotRail Alliance since May 2015, is leaving to become managing director of the East West rail project between Oxford and Cambridge.

Last week, he sparked a row at the Scottish Parliament over who would pay for free travel for season ticket holders as compensation for ScotRail train delays.

During his time in charge, Abellio ScotRail has faced calls for it to be stripped of the £7bn 10-year franchise.

Transport Scotland ordered ScotRail to put in place an improvement plan after 2016 saw its performance slip below contracted standards.

Commenting on the appointment of Mr Hynes, Scottish Labour's transport spokesman Neil Bibby said he was taking on a "difficult role".

He added: "The relationship between ScotRail and the SNP appears to be at breaking point, so Mr Hynes will have a lot of work to do repairing that in the interests of Scotland's passengers.

"Passengers are fed up with delayed, overcrowded and cancelled trains. ScotRail's performance simply isn't good enough."

Mike Rumbles, the Scottish Liberal Democrat's transport spokesman, said passengers wanted to see "improvement".

"The transport minister and the new managing director need to act quickly to fix the recent poor performance," he added.

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