Former British Airways chief executive Keith Williams has been parachuted in to lead a review of Britain’s embattled railway network.
After the farcical implementation of new Thameslink, Southern and Northern Rail timetables earlier this year, Williams has been charged with getting to the bottom of what went wrong and how the government and rail operators can restore passengers’ faith in the network.
Announced on Thursday (September 20) by transport secretary Chris Grayling, Williams will “lead a major review of the rail industry, supported by an expert challenge panel”.
The review will examine the entire structure of the rail industry, including integration between rail operators and maintenance firm Network Rail, regional variations and cost, with a view to sweeping reforms from 2020.
Williams joined BA in 1998 as head of tax and rose through the ranks at the flag carrier, spearheading the airline’s recovery from its post-9/11 slump.
He was appointed chief executive in March 2011, succeeding Willie Walsh, now head of BA parent IAG. Williams stepped down in 2016.
“It’s clear Britain’s railway has seen unprecedented growth and is carrying more passengers than it did a century ago on a network a fraction of the size,” said Williams.
“But it also clear it faces significant challenges. I am looking forward to working with the industry and passengers to tackle these challenges."