New Management Team in Place as Tony Collins and Chris Gibb Retire From Virgin Rail Group PR Newswire LONDON, October 7, 2013 LONDON, October 7, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Virgin Rail Group (VRG) today (7 October 2013) confirmed details of its management team moving forward as Tony Collins, Chief Executive Officer and Chris Gibb, Chief Operating Officer announced plans to retire after combined service of nearly 25 years. Both Tony and Chris will step down this month. Tony, who has had nearly 14 years with Virgin Trains and nine years as Chief Executive Officer, 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. Chris has also announced his retirement, after 10 years with Virgin Trains including six as Chief Operating Officer. Chris, a career railwayman, 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. Each of the Senior Management Team has more than a decade of experience at Virgin Trains and together will have full responsibility for delivering every aspect of the business performance on a day-to-day basis. Sir 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. "Tony, Chris and the team at Virgin Trains have transformed the West Coast Main Line from a laughing stock into Europe's busiest long distance rail service. We have cut journey times, improved service and radically changed people's experiences. Tony is passing the baton to a hugely experienced senior management team at Virgin Trains who are focused on how we can make services even better for our customers on what is on the backbone of the UK rail network." Sir Brian Souter, Stagecoach Group Chairman, said: "Virgin Trains is a fantastic partnership between two innovative transport groups. Tony, the wider management team and the thousands of people at the sharp end of delivering the train service for customers have done a superb job of making our joint vision of transforming rail travel a reality. There is more growth to come and the team we have in place will ensure we have continuity and experience to build on these achievements." Tony Collins said: "I have thoroughly enjoyed leading Virgin Trains and working with the wonderful staff to build a railway service that we can be truly proud of. We have come a long way in the last 10 years and we could not have done it without the amazing support of our people. We overcame all the odds last year and I know the team at Virgin Trains will carry on delivering the excellent customer service and innovation that we are famed for. It has been a great ride." Chris Gibb said: "Delivering great customer service truly is a team effort, requiring not only great staff, which we have in spades at Virgin Trains, but also co-operation between the different stakeholders across the industry. I am especially proud of the part I have played in bringing these important individual parties together to deliver improved performance. That's the foundation which great service is built on and I'm confident the team at Virgin Trains will continue to deliver further improvements to the service we provide for our customers." Virgin Trains employs 3,200 people and has a turnover of over £900million per annum. Notes to Editors Tony Collins Tony joined Virgin Rail from Alstom in 1999, having negotiated the sale of the Pendolino train fleet to Virgin Trains. At the time, the West Coast Main Line was carrying 14 million passengers and was affected by network and track difficulties. Under Tony's management, Virgin Trains has introduced new fleets of Pendolino and Voyager trains and delivered a huge uplift in capacity and faster services. Annual passenger numbers have increased to more than 32 million, with customer satisfaction at a record high of 92%. Most recently, Tony has managed the smooth transition to the current management contract as the Department for Transport finalises its plans for the next competitive franchise. Chris Gibb Chris joined British Rail from school aged 17. After twenty years of operational roles in England, Scotland and Wales, he was Managing Director, Wales & Borders before joining Virgin Trains in 2003 as Managing Director, Virgin Cross Country. In 2007 he became Chief Operating Officer, taking responsibility for Virgin West Coast operations and safety. Phil Whittingham - Finance Director Phil became Director, Finance on 1 January 2008. Phil qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 1996 and joined the company from KPMG's Birmingham office in August 1999, where he worked closely with Virgin Trains. Phil has held various positions in the Finance team, initially having responsibility for business plans and accounts. He was Finance Director of West Coast before joining the Executive team. Martin Griffiths Martin Griffiths (47) is Chief Executive of Stagecoach Group, the leading international public transport group, with extensive operations in the UK, United States and Canada. The Group employs around 35,000 people, and operates bus, coach, train, and tram services. He is responsible for all aspects of the management of the Group's operations, new business development and implementation of the Group's growth strategy going forward. A Chartered Accountant, Martin Grif-fiths joined Stagecoach Group in 1998 as Business Development Director and was appointed Finance Director in 2000. Martin Griffiths is co-Chairman of Virgin Rail Group and a non-executive Director of AG Barr plc. He is also a Director of the cross-industry Rail Delivery Group and Chairman of its Commercial Working Group. A member and former Chairman of the Group of Scottish Finance Directors, he was named Scottish Young Finance Director of the Year in 2004. Born in Ayr, Martin Griffiths graduated from the University of Glasgow, LLB (Bachelor of Laws) with First Class Honours in 1988. He and his wife, Anne, have three children and live in Perth. His interests include golf, football and rugby. Patrick McCall Patrick McCall is a Senior Partner of the Virgin Group and currently holds board positions with Virgin Active, Virgin Galactic, Virgin Care, Virgin Trains, Virgin Money and Virgin Unite. Patrick started his career at SG Warburg in 1987 and during his 10 years there he became a director and worked in a number of departments including: equity research, equity capital markets, M&A, structured finance and project finance. In 1997 he joined Virgin Rail where he was responsible for negotiating the £2bn contract with Railtrack to upgrade the West Coast Main Line and the £2bn project to replace the company's train fleets with new high speed tilting trains. At Virgin Group Patrick has led the group's investments in a large number of companies. Four of these have grown from start ups to be worth over $1 billion. Virgin Active - now the world's largest health club chain, Virgin Galactic - the worlds first commercial operator of private space travel, Virgin Australia - the second largest airline in Australia , Virgin Mobile US - the world's most successful MVNO. He was chairman of Trainline when it was sold to Exponent and is co-chairman of the UK's leading long distance rail company Virgin Trains. Patrick is a director of Virgin Money, the UK's leading challenger bank; Virgin Care, the UK's leading provider of primary healthcare; chair of Virgin Galactic; and chair of Virgin Unite, Virgin Group's philanthropic arm. Patrick is a graduate from Exeter University. Virgin Trains Visit our Media Room website - http://www.virgintrains.com/mediaroom - for the latest news, press releases and the company factsheet. To receive our content live, as and when we publish it, you can sign up to follow us. Go to Follow Virgin Trains and click on 'Create account'. You can view stakeholder news in the latest edition of The Red Letter at http://www.virgintrains.newsweaver.com/newsletter . Virgin Trains has revolutionised rail travel by creating a high speed, high frequency service that has cut journey times and made rail journeys more comfortable. It has operated the West Coast passenger train franchise since 1997, serving key UK cities including London, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Preston and Glasgow. Virgin Trains is the brand name of Virgin Rail Group (VRG), which is owned 51 per cent by Virgin Group and 49 per cent by Stagecoach Group. The Department for Transport (DfT) has awarded VRG a franchise contract, which started on 9 December 2012 and will run for up to 23 months. The DfT announced on 26 March 2013 a programme for letting future franchises, with the next long-term West Coast franchise expected to start in April 2017. Contact: For further media information contact the Virgin Trains Press Office on +44(0)845-000-3333
New Management Team in Place as Tony Collins and Chris Gibb Retire From Virgin Rail Group
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