Julian Edwards, the interim managing director of East Midlands Railway for the first few months of its new franchise, has been named as the new managing director of West Midlands Trains (WMT).
With over 20 years senior rail industry experience, Julian was also recently deputy managing director and UK development director for Abellio UK, owner/major shareholder of both West Midlands Trains and East Midlands Railway. Before that, he spent seven years as finance director with WMT’s predecessors, Central Trains and London Midland.
West Midlands Trains is a joint venture between Abellio (70.1 per cent share) and East Japan Railway Company / Mitsui & Co (29.9 per cent share in a 50:50 split). It operates two brands – West Midlands Railway (to destinations across the West Midlands via Birmingham New Street) and London Northwestern Railway (services between Liverpool and Birmingham, and on the West Coast main line to and from London Euston).
After 30 years in the rail industry, 17 of them at director level, West Midlands Trains’ previous managing director, Jan Chaudhry-van der Velde, decided he will take a career break before moving onto new ventures. He will work alongside Julian until Easter to ensure a smooth transition.
Commenting on his appointment, Julian Edwards said: “This is an exciting time to be joining WMT as passengers will start to see the benefits of our £1 billion investment programme.
“The last six months has been very difficult for West Midlands Trains. I would like to thank Jan for addressing many of the issues, including settling the dispute with the RMT, delivering a three per cent discount for season ticket holders, introducing more rolling stock in December and the recent timetable changes that are already making a positive impact on train performance.
“There is still much to do. Work is well advanced on further performance improvements, the May 2020 timetable, additional compensation for non-season ticket holders and the roll out of two brand new train fleets starting in the second half of this year.”
Mark Winnington, chairman of West Midlands Rail Executive, expressed his enthusiasm to work closely with Julian: “While I recognise the hard work that has been invested since the launch of the West Midlands Trains franchise in 2017, recent performance has not been good enough and has not met the standards which customers deserve.
“West Midlands Trains has accepted this and work is well advanced on driving forward performance improvements, including a new improved timetable in May 2020.
“We’re confident that Julian’s extensive experience in the rail industry and unwavering passion to work collaboratively with rail stakeholders, not least the WMRE, will deliver customer benefits and have a railway that West Midlanders are proud of.”