Michael O’Higgins, former chairman of the Audit Commission and current chairman of The Pensions Regulator, has been appointed to Network Rail’s board as a non-executive director. Richard Parry-Jones, chairman, Network Rail, said: “Our goal at Network Rail is to provide outstanding stewardship of our nation’s rail infrastructure and operate it with the levels of safety, punctuality and efficiency that delight our growing numbers of customers and satisfy the country’s taxpayers who help fund the business. Michael will be a tremendous asset, bringing with him decades of business experience and public sector expertise and will work with the board to see best value being realised and delivered.
Michael O’Higgins said: “Network Rail is an important company delivering billions of pounds of investment every year for the benefit of not only the railway’s four million daily users, but for the economic prosperity of the country as a whole. It plays a vital public service role and in my new position, I hope to add further reassurance to all of us that the company is doing the best job it can as the steward of this strategic national asset.”
Network Rail receives most of its income either via direct government grant or from passengers through fares, and has a natural accountability to the public as a result. As part of the company’s governance reforms, supported by its members (the company’s equivalent to shareholders) and government, it was agreed to appoint a new director with a particular skill set to help intensify the focus on serving the public interest. By appointing Michael to this position, the boards’ ability to serve the interest of the public helping to ensure that the company is wisely spending its taxpayer-funded income and delivering good value for money will be further strengthened.
Mr O’Higgins was appointed by the board on Wednesday (21st November) and will join immediately. His position will need to be ratified by Network Rail’s members at the July 2013 AGM.