The two firms set to jointly run the new West Coast rail franchise have appointed their two managing directors, after a major raid on former operator Virgin's personnel.
FirstGroup and Trenitalia will take up the West Coast Partnership on 8 December, a new-style franchise that will see the operator running passenger rail services between London, the Midlands, North West, Scotland and North Wales, as well as preparing for the introduction of HS2 trains.
Phil Whittingham, managing director of Virgin Trains since 2013, will become managing director of the InterCity West Coast business, while the existing senior management team at Virgin Trains will also transfer.
Mr Whittingham joined Virgin Trains in 1999 as group management accountant and was appointed finance director in 2007 before taking over as managing director in 2013.
Caroline Donaldson, currently bid director at FirstGroup, will become managing director of the West Coast Partnership Development, which will provide design and development services to support the future operation of high-speed rail services in collaboration with HS2 Ltd and the Department for Transport.
Ms Donaldson has been bid director at FirstGroup since 2010 and steered the two firms’ successful bid for the partnership. She previously held various positions across the transport sector, including senior positions at Network Rail and London Underground.
She is a chartered accountant, and holds a degree in mathematics from Cambridge University and an MBA from Cranfield School of Management.
First Rail managing director Steve Montgomery said: ‘These appointments demonstrate our determination to deliver a range of improvements for InterCity West Coast passengers during the first phase of the partnership and help deliver the railway of tomorrow.
‘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.'
Other senior managers at Virgin transferring to the new Intercity West Coast business and reporting to Mr Whittingham are 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.
Bob Powell, currently interim executive customer experience director at Virgin Trains; and Gus Dunster, interim executive operations director, will also transfer in their current interim roles to the new organisation while Sarah Kendall from the First-Trenitalia mobilisation team will join in the role of projects director.
New appointments to the West Coast Partnership Development team reporting to Ms Donaldson are: Russell Evans, train services director; Joost Noordewier, customer experience and commercial director; Adriano Scapati, rolling stock director and Eileen Abbess, project management office director.