Railfuture's 2021 AGM in Birmingham will have two guest speakers from (or involved with) the rail industry. They were specially chosen as they represented organisations responsible for operating or improving the region's railway.
In his role as Executive Director, West Midlands Rail Executive (WMRE), and Director of Rail, Transport for West Midlands (TfWM), Malcolm Holmes leads the development and delivery of local rail policy for the region. WMRE has worked collaboratively with the Department for Transport to specify and procure the new West Midlands franchise which started operation in December 2017. WMRE is a limited company owned by the local transport authorities of the West Midlands including TfWM, with the ultimate aim of creating a fully devolved rail franchise to support the economy of the region.
A career railwayman of more than 25 years, Malcolm's background is in rail customer service, train crew management and operations. Previously holding senior posts with Chiltern Railways and London Overground (LOROL), Malcolm has been working on West Midlands rail devolution since 2012.
Railfuture invited Malcolm to speak at the AGM to explain what actions would be taken to encourage people to use the railway in large numbers again after the end of the COVID-19 restrictions, and also to provide updates on plans for rail improvements and expansion in the West Midlands.
Karen Heppenstall joined Midlands Connect as its new Head of Rail in 2021, after six years at engineering consultancy WSP, following roles at the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and Network Rail. Karen will oversee the progression of Midlands Connect's rail programme; Midlands Engine Rail, work to secure funding for project development and integrate programmes within other key workstreams such as decarbonisation and future mobility. Midlands Connect will publish its updated connectivity strategy in autumn 2021.
At the time of her appointment, Karen said: "This is such an exciting time to be working in the rail industry, and I'm thrilled to be joining such an ambitious and forward-thinking organisation as Midlands Connect. The release of the Integrated Rail Plan in 2021 was a critical moment outlining Government's shortlist of regional rail investments for the next three decades. I am looking forward to working with my colleagues and our partners to deliver a more sustainable, connected and productive rail network for our region."
Karen has a wealth of experience in the development, appraisal and delivery of rail projects. As well as developing a rail strategy for South-West STB Western Gateway, she has also spearheaded the production of business cases for reopening railway lines as part of Government's Restoring Your Railways (RYR) fund; led the development of a number of new and relocated stations (including Teesside Airport Station); and shaped station Masterplans such as that included in Stoke-on-Trent's Transforming Cities Fund bid.
Railfuture invited Karen to speak about Midland Connect's current plans and progress in improving inter-regional rail-based transport links.
Click HERE to return to previous page.