ScotRail chief to keep job after Abellio takeover

ScotRail chief Steve Montgomery will keep his job when Abellio take over the franchise. Picture: Robert Perry
ScotRail chief Steve Montgomery will keep his job when Abellio take over the franchise. Picture: Robert Perry
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SCOTRAIL chief Steve Montgomery will keep his job when Abellio take over the franchise in two weeks time, the Dutch firm announced today.

The surprise move followed industry speculation that a new managing director was being lined up for the ten-year contract from 1 April.

“It is well recognised ScotRail has been a successful franchise under the leadership of the current team”

Dominic Booth

However, a shake-up could follow at the end of the year when the joint head of a new “alliance” with track owner Network Rail is due to be appointed.

Abellio said the closer-working structure would involve a “combined leadership team”.

The firm described the line-up unveiled as the “day one team”. It said changing franchises was a “highly disruptive process” and stressed the importance of “strong continuity”.

Many of the current ScotRail directors will also stay, although Network Rail retail director Jonathan Crick has been drafted in as interim commercial director pending a permanent appointment.

Former Southern train operator human resources director Matt Watson becomes business transformation director.

Abellio hopes to appoint a sustainability and safety assurance director by 1 April.

Abellio managing director Dominic Booth said: “It is well recognised ScotRail has been a successful franchise under the leadership of the current team.

“Whilst Abellio are extremely ambitious and have committed to significant improvements, these will be delivered by building on the good work done by ScotRail in recent years.

“We’re not about starting from scratch.

“One of our aims in transition to the new franchise is to avoid distracting everyone too much from the important ‘business as usual’ of delivering ScotRail services for customers.

“Therefore the best way to start the new franchise is with some strong continuity combined with a fresh perspective and some new faces.”

The Train drivers union expressed anger that it had taken until two weeks before the start of the franchise for a virtually unchanged management line-up to be announced.

Scottish secretary Kevin Lindsay said: “I welcome Abellio finally appointing their ‘new’ team, but obviously the fact it’s the same senior management team makes a mockery of the decision taking so long.

“Questions now must be asked why [Scottish Government agency] Transport Scotland did not think they were good enough to run the railway through their bid with [current ScotRail operator] FirstGroup, but Abellio are happy to appoint them.”

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