Network Rail has announced former Shell executive vice-president Mark Carne will replace Sir David Higgins as its next chief executive.
Mr Carne will join the organisation on 6 January 2014 and take over as chief executive from 1 April 2014.
This will allow him to oversee the start of the next funding period, known as Control Period 5, which runs from 2014 to 2019.
Network Rail said that as executive vice-president for Shell in the Middle East and North Africa, Mr Carne was responsible for the company’s business in a vital but volatile region at a time of significant political change.
“He placed particular emphasis on developing local staff and businesses, supporting each country as they addressed the issue of unemployment – and in the process helped Shell achieve a strong position in countries such as Iraq,” its statement said.
Before taking on that role he was executive vice-president and managing director for BG Group in Europe and Central Asia following a 21-year period spent in a variety of roles with Shell, including responsibility for oil and gas platforms in the North Sea and as managing director for Brunei Shell Petroleum.
Earlier in his career he helped to lead the company’s response to the disaster on the Occidental-operated Piper Alpha platform in the North Sea.
Network Rail chairman Richard Parry Jones said: “Each and every day, Network Rail has to provide a safe and reliable railway for the travelling public as well as the train and freight operating companies, at the same time as working to improve the network to help us meet unprecedented growth in demand.
“That poses a unique set of challenges for any chief executive, demanding the skill and experience to translate engineering excellence into daily operations safely and effectively, as well as keeping the public informed of what we are doing and why.
“Through his work with Shell and BG Group in very testing and difficult environments, Mark Carne has shown that he has the necessary skill and global experience to build on, and develop further, what Network Rail has already achieved in meeting these challenges under the leadership of David Higgins.
“We thank David for all he has done for the company.”
Mr Carne said: “The success of Network Rail is vital for Britain’s economy and this is an exciting time for the whole rail industry.
“I am delighted to be given the opportunity to lead Network Rail and look forward to working with the team to drive performance to new heights.”
Contractors are hoping the new chief executive will continue the “positive culture change” that David Higgins brought to Network Rail.
One senior contractor said: “In order for Network Rail and Mr Carne to deliver on their train performance targets, they will need to ensure that the transition from CP4 to CP5 is seamless.”
He added that contractors feared project volumes in 2014/15 may dip significantly and that “design development is not where it needs to be, six months before CP5 kicks off”.
It was revealed in July that Sir David Higgins would stand down next year.
Sir David joined the board of Network Rail as a non-executive director in April 2010.
He became chief executive in February 2011 after leaving his position as chief executive of the Olympic Delivery Authority, which he had led since its creation.
A Network Rail source told Construction News Sir David had always made it clear he would not remain as chief executive throughout the duration of CP5.