Changes at the top prepare the Rail Delivery Group for the future

The Rail Delivery Group has announced changes to its leadership that will ensure the organisation is ready to support potential reforms stemming from the Williams Review into the future structure of the railway.

After four years as Chair of RDG, Chris Burchell’s term has come to an end. He is replaced by Steve Montgomery, Managing Director First Rail, after being unanimously endorsed by the RDG Board.

In a move delayed from last Autumn, chief executive, Paul Plummer, will retire from executive roles at the end of the year.

RDG is taking this as an opportunity to restructure so that it is fit to engage with and support industry reform. Whilst continuing to be a centre for collaboration across the rail system, RDG will be structured to ensure the continuity of high quality services to the railway and also to act as an effective voice for key sections of its membership, such as Train Operators and Freight Operators, and the industry as a whole.

Changes in RDG’s leadership are being made to reflect the move to these new structures. Jacqueline Starr will lead Service Delivery and be overall RDG Chief Executive Officer and Andy Bagnall will lead Advocacy & Change as RDG Director General.

In his five years as Chief Executive of RDG, Paul transformed the organisation, building its capacity in programme and project management and improving its member governance to support better decision making. Paul has also driven RDG to become the employer of a more diverse workforce and delivered a bold set of reform proposals to the Williams review on behalf of the industry.

As RDG Chairman, Chris Burchell has played a crucial role representing the industry’s voice effectively to three different Secretaries of State for Transport, championing reform in areas such as complex rail fares as well as increased collaboration across the system and most recently he has ensured RDG played a central role in the Rail Industry Coronavirus Forum with the rail unions.

Commenting on the changes, Chris Burchell, MD of Arriva UK Trains and outgoing RDG Chair, said:

I have thoroughly enjoyed working with Paul as CEO of RDG over my extended term as Chair. He has not only successfully transformed the organisation, processes and strategy but has also been highly effective in bringing the industry to work closer together and to providing an effective voice for industry to government and stakeholders. His commitment and leadership through several challenging periods, not least the pandemic, are testament to his spirit and love for the industry and we all wish him well as he steps down from executive roles.

Commenting on the changes, Steve Montgomery, MD of First Rail and new RDG Chair, said:

With the railway at a critical point, facing as it does the twin challenges of recovering from the Covid-crisis and major structural reform, strong leadership on behalf of the industry is crucial and the changes being made at RDG will deliver this. Over recent years, Chris and Paul have built the RDG’s voice and its capability to deliver key services for the industry and they leave it in a strong position to navigate the future within a reformed system. I would like to thank them both for their tremendous contribution to the industry over many years.

Paul Plummer, CEO of Rail Delivery Group, said:

RDG exists to help make Britain’s railway better and we’ve made the case for reform of our railway which is now widely accepted. The current crisis has shown collaboration across the railway at its best and there will be further tests to come in the transition to a sustainable model for the industry which puts the customer at the heart of local decision making while helping to decarbonise and level-up our economy. We’ve said before reform may mean changes for our own organisation. But it’s never been more important for the railway to have the first-class support services and the strong voice that RDG provides. The steps we are taking now under the new leadership team will help ensure that continues to be the case whatever the future holds.

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Notes to editors

  1. With it likely that the government will create some form of ‘guiding mind’ to bring greater coordination to the railway, RDG has created two distinct pillars to sit, currently, within the same organisation. The first is Service Delivery which provides functions, such as ticketing systems and online journey planning, that support the operation of the railway. The second, Advocacy & Change, contributes to the development of railway policy while also facilitating cross industry collaboration on a wide range of issues.
  2. Increasingly, on some of the Advocacy & Change issues, RDG has sought to represent and coordinate train operator members, for example, in making the case for reform of the industry. Through the RDG Freight Board we have also sought to support rail freight during a challenging period. RDG still stands for collaboration across the industry as a whole including both Network Rail and HS2 who are key members.
  3. Ola Ogun will continue as Chief Financial Officer and provide services to both A&C and SD, reporting to the CEO. John Thomas, Susie Homan and Robert Nisbet remain Director of Policy, Director of People, Operations and Railway Strategy, and Director of Nations and Regions, respectively, and will report into the RDG Director General. RDG will transition to this structure over the next few weeks to December 1st when Jac and Andy will assume full responsibility as CEO and DG with support from the rest of the executive team.
  4. About Steve, Jacqueline and Andy:
    • Steve Montgomery, MD of First Rail: Steve's career in the railway industry spans almost 30 years, during which time he has gained significant experience in all aspects of rail management. He started his working life with British Rail and held various senior posts before becoming Operations and Safety Director at ScotRail, coinciding with FirstGroup taking over the franchise in 2004. He was appointed Managing Director of First ScotRail in 2009. Under his leadership, First ScotRail achieved the highest ever levels of customer satisfaction and punctuality in the franchise's history and won countless awards including Rail Operator of the Year in 2014 and Scottish Public Transport Operator of the Year in both 2012 and 2013.
    • Jacqueline Starr, Chief Operating Officer at the Rail Delivery Group: Jacqueline Starr is a customer champion advocating change in support of evolving customer needs and has worked to introduce a near real time pan industry experience measurement system in support of this. Jacqueline has previously held roles as MD of Customer in RDG, she has worked as an internal consultant as Director of Experience in Barclays Design Office, Head of Experience at O2 UK and Head of Customer Experience and Loyalty at Orange France. Jacqueline also has a NED role on the Customer Board at LiveWest (Housing Association).
    • Andy Bagnall, Chief Strategy Officer at the Rail Delivery Group: Andy joined the RDG as Director of Communications in September 2018, leading its media, public affairs and strategic communications functions. As Chief Strategy Officer he also coordinates policy development and advocacy across the organisation.  Before RDG, Andy was KPMG’s Director of External Affairs, and he previously spent five years at the CBI as Director of Campaigns. Andy has held a number of policy and campaigning jobs. He was a special adviser to the UK government, serving two cabinet ministers in three departments over four years.