The Reason WHY – part 3


Following our foray into how the UK Treasury stymies government freedom to act regarding the sensible allocation of resources to the various transport modes, it’s time to take a close look at the management style of the boss of Britain’s rail network. Christian Wolmar does this very well indeed in an article on his website. Read the extract below to see how he rates the future of Network Rail chairman, Ian McAllister. (See picture.)

Xmas chaos highlights flaws in rail structure

TSSA Journal, March 2008

Nothing characterises the flawed structure of the rail industry better than the jaunt to Buckingham Palace by the chairman of Network Rail, Ian McAllister to collect his knighthood. Unfortunately for McAllister, it coincided with the day his company was fined £14m by the rail regulator for the post Christmas chaos at Rugby and two other sites

This is not just a matter of scoring a debating point against a fat cat. McAllister’s lack of concern over the Rugby incident in the first place, when he told the Daily Mail that he would just be in the way if he went into the office during the holiday break, suggests that neither taxpayers nor the railway are getting much benefit from the £250,000 he is paid annually.

McAllister’s failure to recognise the PR damage he caused is illustrative of the arrogance that permeates the company culture. While things have undoubtedly improved since the Railtrack days when the company alienated not only passengers but the whole of the rail industry, there is still little recognition among its bosses of the hugely privileged position they are in, given that Network Rail is a monopoly funded by almost endless amounts of government cash.

Rugby and subsequent events have raised very fundamental questions about the future of Network Rail. The fact that the only way to discipline the company is through fines whose only effect is to reduce the amount available to invest in the industry has not been lost on ministers. Network Rail is one more debacle – either a similar major overrun or an accident – from attracting a thorough investigation of the way that the industry is structured and Network Rail’s role in it. Watch first, though, for McAllister’s quiet departure in the next few months.

(Click for original article.)

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