New Management Team in Place as Tony Collins and Chris Gibb Retire From Virgin
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
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
"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
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
Notes to Editors
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
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 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 (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
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
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
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.
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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
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