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East West Rail names Phil Verster managing director

East West Rail has chosen Phil Verster to manage delivery of its proposed Oxford-to-Cambridge rail project unveiled by transport secretary Chris Grayling last month.

Mr Verster will become managing director of the project, which will be delivered by the newly created organisation operating entirely separately from Network Rail.

The decision to create East West Rail was part of the shake-up to Network Rail revealed by Mr Grayling in December.

The group will oversee the construction and operation of the multi-million-pound line.

Mr Grayling’s announcement also saw Network Rail stripped of its complete control of the UK’s railways, with decisions on track maintenance to be made by a team comprising staff from Network Rail and the train operating companies that run services.

The delivery of the Oxford-Cambridge line will mark a step-change in the way major projects are delivered on the rail network. Enhancements and renewals work is usually delivered through Network Rail’s Infrastructure Projects Division.

Mr Grayling told Construction News last month that he was looking for new and innovative ways of delivering the line and would not rule out public-private partnerships.

Mr Verster has spent the last two years leading ScotRail Alliance.

He will begin his role in spring, with his replacement set to be announced in the coming days.

The Scotsman reported that managing director of Arriva Rail North Alex Hynes had been lined up to replace Mr Verster.

Mr Verster will report directly to the East West Rail chairman Rob Brighouse.

Mr Brighouse was previously managing director of Chiltern Railways, where he led the delivery of several privately financed infrastructure projects and also worked closely with Network Rail on the construction of the £87m line between London and Oxford, which is being built by a Carillion / Buckingham JV.

Network Rail chief executive Mark Carne said: “Phil has done a great job setting up the ScotRail Alliance and overseeing the delivery of one of the largest programmes of rail modernisation in Scotland since Victorian times.

”We have agreed a replacement to succeed Phil and will be making an announcement shortly.”

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