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ScotRail announces new position of chief operating officer as it heads towards public ownership next year

By David G Scott

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ScotRail has announced the appointment of its new chief operating officer from 1 April 2022, when the train operator becomes a public body.

Joanne Maguire, currently vice principal – resources at the University of the West of Scotland, will take up the role on day one of the new public body. In her current job, she is responsible for, among other things, finance, HR and industrial relations, health and safety, sustainability, and information services.

Ms Maguire, 42, will take over from current chief operating officer Ian McConnell when Abellio hands over the franchise to Scottish Rail Holdings, the public body that will own and oversee ScotRail Trains from April 1, 2022.

Joanna Maguire.
Joanna Maguire.

Prior to her current position, Joanne was previously executive director for HR at the university and has held senior leadership roles at City of Glasgow College, as well as in the manufacturing and retail sectors.

Last week, Transport Scotland announced the appointment of Chris Gibb as chief executive officer of Scottish Rail Holdings. Chris will also chair the board of ScotRail Trains.

Alex Hynes, managing director of Scotland’s Railway, said: “I am delighted we have managed to secure Joanne’s agreement to join ScotRail Trains at what is a very exciting time for Scotland’s Railway. Joanne brings a wealth of leadership experience to this role, which will be vital as we transition to the new public body."

Joanne Maguire said: “I am excited to take up my role at ScotRail Trains. Throughout the pandemic, the railway has played a vital role in keeping key workers moving, connecting communities, and supporting the economy during challenging times."

Train arriving at Wick railway station. Picture: DGS
Train arriving at Wick railway station. Picture: DGS

In March, net zero, climate and transport secretary Michael Matheson said that ScotRail would come under public ownership run through an arm’s-length company controlled by the Scottish Government, declaring that the current system of rail franchising was "no longer fit for purpose”.

Abellio was stripped of the franchise three years early in the wake of continuing outcry over service failings and rising costs to the taxpayer.

A 2018 winter timetable with the introduction of high-speed trains and new class 385 electric trains ushered in months of cancellations and disruption to services with much of it put down to staff shortages partly due to training to deal with the new trains.

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