Train operator First Great Western announces new Stakeholder Board Chair

Wednesday 22nd October 2014
Train operator First Great Western has announced a new chairman of its Stakeholder Board, after current chair of the Stakeholder Advisory Board, Charles Howeson requested to step down from the position.

Charles’ decision follows the Secretary of State for Transport’s announcement last week (Friday, 10 October), which set out the arrangements for the new Great Western franchise until March 2019. It follows eight years at the forefront of the business, which has seen many changes in all areas of First Great Western’s operations, and delivered marked and sustained improvements in all key customer service measures.

He is succeeded as Stakeholder Board Chairman by Lord Faulkner of Worcester.

Charles said: “It was my firm recommendation – particularly given last week’s announcement from the Secretary of State – that the new Stakeholder Board must reflect the new priorities for the region’s principal railway going forward. That change needs to happen now so that, should FGW be awarded a new franchise next year, my successor can make sure the changes needed will have had the opportunity to fully bed in.

“It is now the time to hand over the chairmanship and to refresh the team so the greatest possible emphasis can be placed on looking ahead and meeting the significant new challenges presented by the massive investment being made in infrastructure renewal right across the region

“It was a rare privilege to be invited to come into arguably what I believe is now the finest railway company in the country as an outsider, and I have been honoured to work with an amazing group of talented individuals from the most junior through to those at the customer interface up to and including the boardroom. I am pleased First Great Western has appointed my close colleague Richard Faulkner in my stead, he is the ideal person to succeed me at this juncture and he takes over the reins with my warmest best wishes.”

First Great Western Managing Director, Mark Hopwood, paid tribute to Charles’ chairmanship. He said: “Charles tenure as chairman of the FGW board, and then latterly of the advisory board, began at a particularly challenging time, and he can now be satisfied that he passes on his responsibilities at a time when the company has never been in a better shape.

“He is well recognised among firstline colleagues and senior managers alike for his unique style of senior leadership, which centres firmly on putting people first. This culture is now embraced right across our operations, and I would personally like to thank Charles for his counsel, expertise and contribution to what has been an exceptional turnaround.

“It gives me great pleasure to welcome Lord Faulkner to be Charles’ successor, and I look forward to working with him with renewed focus on delivering what is best for our customers.”

First Great Western Employee Director Martin Stoolman said: I would like to add personal thanks to Charles for his great efforts during the past ten years, and for the support he has shown to me and my colleagues. The empathy he showed with colleagues in the early years as firstline colleagues fought to deliver in challenging circumstances was much appreciated, and will be remembered by many.”

Lord Faulkner said: “Charles has set the bar high, and with £7.5 billion of investment set to be made in the network over the coming years it is important that First Great Western continues to get its relationship with customers, stakeholders and partners right.

“This is an exciting time for both the rail industry and the region and the Stakeholder Board and I look forward to helping shape the future to ensure customers really get the benefit of that investment.”