Glasgow Queen Street ScotRail Class 385 EMU

UK: Two senior appointments have been announced at Scottish Rail Holdings, the Scottish government-owned company being set up to own ScotRail Trains Ltd, which will operate ScotRail passenger services after the current contract held by Abellio expires on March 31 2022.

Chris Gibb has been appointed as Chief Executive Officer and David Lowrie as Finance Director on a fixed-term basis. Work is continuing to explore the process for recruiting non-executive posts within Scottish Rail Holdings.

Gibb is non-executive director of DfT OLR Holdings Ltd, the Operator of Last Resort for England which runs Southeastern, LNER and Northern services. From January to April this year he was on secondment to Transport for Wales Rail to support the transition of that business to Welsh government ownership.

Lowrie is Associate Director at DfT OLR Holdings Ltd and a strategic adviser to Transport Scotland.

‘They both bring with them a wealth of knowledge’, said Scottish Transport Minister Graeme Dey on December 10.

Abellio’s ScotRail franchise started on April 1 2015 with a minimum term of seven years. There was an option to extend to 10 years by mutual consent, but the Scottish government did not take this up, so the contract will expire at the end of March.

‘We are on track to delivering SRH in the new year, which will provide ScotRail services within the public sector under Scottish government control and facilitate the smoothest transition possible for rail passengers and staff on April 1 2022’, said Dey. ‘The Scottish government is of the view that this is most robust and sustainable model available under current UK rail legislation, which we have no powers to change.’

He said the new model ‘strikes a balance between the ability of experienced rail professionals to make operational decisions and overall accountability to the Scottish government’, adding that ‘we would also expect to see strong partnerships with Network Rail and other parts of the industry as a key feature of the new arrangements.’