UNION RAILS AT TRAIN BOSS APPOINTMENT
A rail union has criticised the choice of a new chief operating officer for Scotland’s railway system, due to her lack of industry experience.
Joanne Maguire, who currently has a senior role with a university, will take up her
new position when Abellio’s contract to run ScotRail ends.
But Aslef described the decision to appoint someone with no experience of running the railways as “a huge error”.
Transport Scotland said the Scottish government welcomed the appointment.
Ms Maguire is currently vice principal of resources at the University of the West of Scotland, responsible for, among other things, finance, human resources and industrial relations..
Previously she held leadership roles at City of Glasgow College, as well as in the manufacturing and retail sectors.
The 42-year-old will take over from current chief operating officer Ian McConnell on 1 April when Abellio hands over the ScotRail franchise to Scottish Rail Holdings, the public body that will own and oversee ScotRail trains from April.
Abellio took over the ScotRail franchise in 2015 but had its contract ended early amid criticism over cancellations and performance levels.
In March, the Scottish government announced it was nationalising Scotland’s train operator, arguing that it would “provide a stable platform for ScotRail services and certainty for passengers and staff”.
ScotRail managing director Alex Hynes welcomed Ms Maguire’s appointment.
He said: “Joanne brings a wealth of leadership experience to this role, which will be vital as we transition to the new public body.
“From the outset it was clear Joanne has the skills, determination, and energy needed to lead ScotRail Trains as it seeks to recover from the pandemic and give customers the safe and reliable service they deserve.”
But Aslef said the appointment of a chief operating officer without any experience within the railway sector was “staggering”.
Scotland organiser Kevin Lindsay said: “Scotland has a chance to build its new publicly operated railway properly, yet ScotRail and the Scottish government have made a huge error before the first train has left the station.
“We need to be getting Scotland back on track with a world-class service that’s affordable and helps meet our climate targets.
“Yet days after announcing fare hikes we learn that this crucial appointment has been made to someone with no experience of running the railways.
“The transport minister must meet with Aslef and other rail unions immediately if our new service is to be prevented from going off the rails.”