The new boss of Network Rail was warned he was taking on “one of the worst jobs in Britain”, he has revealed.
Andrew Haines told MPs he will put passengers’ interests “front and centre” as chief executive of the organisation after “seven sustained years of decline in performance”.
Mr Haines was questioned by the Commons’ Transport Select Committee after taking over from Mark Carne at the government-owned company responsible for Britain’s rail infrastructure.
He took on the role last month after leaving the Civil Aviation Authority. He had previously had a wide-ranging career in the rail industry, including managing director positions at South West Trains and the rail division of First Group.
Asked to describe Network Rail’s biggest weaknesses, Mr Haines told the committee: “The reason I took on the job – a few people described it to me as one of the worst jobs in Britain – was because I’ve been very passionate throughout all my career about putting passengers first and I’m not sure Network Rail is perceived as that at the moment.”
He went on: “I think that passengers fundamentally don’t understand what Network Rail does and I don’t think they have confidence that Network Rail is looking out for them.
“My commitment is to make sure that passengers’ interests are front and centre of Network Rail’s agenda for every single one of our employees.”
Mr Haines explained he would achieve this by focusing on day-to-day operations because “you’re only as good as the last train”.
He warned that the industry is in a position where it believes “seven sustained years of decline in performance cannot be dealt with”.
He added: “I fundamentally don’t believe that.”
Office of Rail and Road figures show that the proportion of trains in Britain which failed to arrive at their destination within five or 10 minutes of the schedule – depending on the distance travelled – has fallen from 92% in 2011/12 to 88% in 2017/18.
Network Rail has also overseen major projects which have been delayed and run over budget, such as the electrification of the Great Western Main Line.