New managing directors appointed for West Coast Partnership Rail Franchise

The transport companies that will jointly take over the running of the West Coast Partnership has appointed two managing directors.

Phil Whittingham and Caroline Donaldson have been appointed by FirstGroup and Trenitalia, which will take on the rail services on December 8.

The West Coast Main Line covers inter-city services serving Birmingham New Street, Sandwell & Dudley, Wolverhampton, Stafford, Telford, Wellington and Shrewsbury.

Phil, managing director of Virgin Trains since 2013, will now become managing director of the InterCity West Coast business, running passenger rail services between London, the Midlands, North West, Scotland and North Wales.

In this role, he will manage a company that will oversee a substantial programme of investment in new and refurbished trains, improved stations and additional services and capacity.

He joined Virgin Trains in 1999 as group management accountant having worked closely with the company while working as an accountant at KPMG from 1996. He was appointed finance director in 2007 before taking over as managing director in 2013.

Caroline, currently bid director at FirstGroup, will become the managing director of the West Coast Partnership Development that will provide a range of design and development services to support the future operation of high-speed rail services between the North and London in close collaboration with HS2 Ltd and the Department for Transport.


As bid director, Caroline steered FirstGroup and Trenitalia’s successful joint bid for the partnership. She has been bid director for FirstGroup since 2010, and previously held various positions across the transport sector, including senior positions at Network Rail and London Underground.

Steve Montgomery, managing director of First Rail, said: “These appointments demonstrate our determination to deliver a range of improvements for InterCity West Coast passengers during the first phase of the partnership and help deliver the railway of tomorrow. Our aim is to provide exceptional service as standard for our customers.

“Phil and Caroline bring great experience, insight and drive to deliver the significant improvements we’re committed to while also establishing the plans and initiatives which will form the bedrock of future high speed rail services.”

Ernesto Sicilia, managing director of Trenitalia (UK), said: “We are delighted to confirm these management appointments which we believe combine the right balance of continuity and professional expertise to deliver our innovative and pioneering partnership operation and to guarantee a high-level service to our customers.”

The West Coast Partnership will operate intercity services between London Euston and the Midlands, North-West England, Scotland and North Wales.

Passengers will benefit from a fleet of new intercity trains as well as the complete refurbishment of the existing Pendolino train fleet.

There will be 263 more train services every week by 2022 with new routes added, and a much improved on-board service with enhanced free Wi-Fi, plug sockets, 25,000 brand new seats, and improved catering.

With immediate effect on December 8, passengers will benefit from improved passenger compensation, available for journeys delayed by 15 minutes or more, compared to 30 minutes today.

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