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Grand Railway Collaboration appoints Lucy Wootton as new leader

A West Midlands-based rail industry group committed to improving customer service has appointed a new leader to help evolve and deliver improvements for passengers. The Grand Railway Collaboration (GRC), which represents train operators, Network Rail’s Central route, the West Midlands Rail Executive (WMRE) and Transport Focus, has appointed Lucy Wootton as its new head.

Lucy, a rail professional with more than 12 years’ experience, was the regional manager (London), for Chiltern Railways, and has joined the GRC on an 18-month secondment. She will work directly with the GRC chair, Alex Warner, to progress plans to improve customer service and satisfaction as well as meeting the challenge of recovering from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Lucy Wootton said: “This is an exciting opportunity to work with the rail industry to really improve the passenger experience across the network. I want the GRC to set the standard for customer service and for how train operators and Network Rail work together to really deliver for passengers and the communities we serve.”

Sir Peter Hendy, chair of Network Rail, said: “Network Rail is focused on putting passengers first. The Grand Rail Collaboration fits perfectly with this and I know, with Lucy’s support, it will have a positive impact on attracting passengers back and improving customer service as we emerge from lockdown.”

Alex Warner, chair of the Grand Railway Collaboration, said: “Lucy brings a wealth of customer-focused experience to the GRC which fits exactly with our ambition to provide passengers with the best possible experience. The unique membership of the GRC means the whole industry can work together to improve the railway, particularly important as passengers begin to return after the pandemic.”

Malcolm Holmes, executive director at West Midlands Rail Executive, said: “The GRC is really evolving and will help ensure that the industry is working as one to welcome old and new passengers to train travel once again. Lucy’s knowledge and experience will be invaluable in making this a success.”

The GRC was launched by rail industry bosses in 2019 with a commitment for closer working to tackle performance, simplify rail fare structures, improve the quality of trains and stations, and deliver more efficient timetables for passengers.

As well the WMRE, train operating companies and Network Rail, for the first time in the country freight operators are included as key partners in the collaboration. Following a change to how Network Rail operates the railway, the Worcester area has become part of Central route after moving from Western at the end of April.

As a result, Great Western Railway is the latest partner to be involved, with its managing director Mark Hopwood bringing a wealth of industry experience to the GRC.

Jan Chaudhry-van der Velde, the recently appointed managing director of Transport for Wales, and previous West Midlands Trains boss, will also be part of the team.

Members of the Grand Railway Collaboration include: West Midlands Trains, Great Western Railway, CrossCountry, Avanti West Coast, Chiltern Railways and Transport for Wales; Network Rail, Rail Freight Group, West Midlands Rail Executive, and Transport Focus. Areas of the rail industry the GRC will tackle include passenger and freight train performance, simplifying fare structures, improving the quality of trains and stations, sharing busy track capacity in the most efficient way and delivering resilient, reliable timetables.

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