Mr Henri Kuitunen has been named President & Chief Executive Officer of VR Group Ltd. He replaces Mr Panu Haapala, who became President on January 1, but died suddenly on March 15.

Mr Albert Vilalta has been appointed President of the Spanish rail infrastructure authority GIF. Mr Francisco Ballesteros becomes Finance Director, and Mr Manuel Carbajosa Project Director for the Barcelona - Madrid high speed line.

Mr Hiroumi Soejima has been elected President of Japan’s Railway Technical Research Institute, replacing Mr Masanori Ozeki who has retired. Mr Soejima studied mechanical engineering at the University of Tokyo and joined JNR in 1959. After heading JNR’s Rolling Stock Division and serving as Director General of Shinkansen Operations, he joined JR Central in 1987, becoming Executive Vice-President in June 1996.

Mr José Enrique García-Romeu Fleta has been named Director General of Spanish narrow gauge operator Feve. Mr Adolfo Barrio Mozo becomes General Secretary.

Mr Vaclav John has been named Commercial Director of Czech Railways. Mr Frantisek Nykles has been appointed Director of Infrastructure and Mr Jiri Sponar Personnel Manager.

Mr Pierre Lombard, General Manager (Regional Management), Spoornet, was elected Chairman of the International Heavy Haul Association on April 10, replacing Mr John Reoch of Canac International. Mr Brian Bock, General Manager, Engineering, for Queensland Railways, has been elected Vice Chairman.

Mr Yukitaka Ishii has been named Chairman of JR Kyushu, replacing Mr Toshiaki Yamashita. Mr Ishii will be replaced as President by Mr Koji Tanaka.

Mr Richard Brown, Managing Director of British train operating company Midland Main Line, has been appointed Chief Executive of National Express Group’s Trains Division. NEG has named Mr Alastair McPherson as Managing Director of its ScotRail TOC, replacing Mr John Ellis, and Mr Charles Belcher from EWS has joined NEG as Managing Director of North London Railways in place of Mr David Watters.

Mag Anton Hoser has taken over as General Manager of Austrian Federal Railways’ freight division.

Mr Peter Young has become Acting Chairman of Australia’s National Rail Corp.

Mr Frank Forcione has been appointed General Manager, Operations Support, at Amtrak West. He is succeeded as General Manager of Commuter Operations for CalTrain by Mr Donald L Saunders.

Mr John Elliott has become Deputy Chairman of Queensland Rail Corp.

Mr Chris Garnett is appointed Vice President, Rail, for Sea Containers Ltd; he is also Great North Eastern Railway Chief Executive.

Mr Shojiro Nan-ya was confirmed as President of West Japan Railway on April 1. He joined JNR in 1964 after graduating in Economics from Tokyo University. After holding a variety of senior posts in labour relations, human resources and accounts he became Managing Director & Senior General Manager, Corporate Planning for JR-West in 1991. He was appointed Executive Vice President and Director of the Head Office in June 1994.

Canadian National has abolished a tier of senior management as part of its move to centralise operations at Edmonton. Mr Keith Heller, formerly Senior Vice-President CN East, becomes Senior Vice-President, Line Operations, and Mr Rick Boyd, formerly Senior Vice-President CN West will oversee the changes. Mr Robert Dolan has been appointed Senior Vice-President, Corporate Services.