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Changes at the top for Virgin Rail Group

Changes at the top for Virgin Rail Group

Virgin Rail Group has confirmed details of its management team moving forward after chief executive Tony Collins and chief operating officer Chris Gibb announced plans to retire after combined service of nearly 25 years.

Both will step down this month.

Collins, who has had nearly 14 years with Virgin Trains and nine years as chief executive, 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.

Gibb has also announced his retirement, after ten years with Virgin Trains including six as chief operating officer.

A career railwayman, he 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.

Virgin group chief 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.”

Virgin Trains employs 3,200 people and has a turnover of over £900million per annum.