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End of an era | Recapping Mark Carne’s Network Rail tenure

Mark Carne

Harry Kane had just made his first Premier League start for Tottenham, most people still thought Brexit was a type of cereal and the suggestion that Donald Trump would be the next US president would have been laughed off in a moment.

The world was a very different place in April 2014, when Mark Carne official took over Network Rail.

In reality, Carne had already been in the building for some time, getting to work five weeks before he was scheduled to do so.

Taking the bull by the horns, Carne put himself at the centre of a storm after a harsh winter had left almost 300 Network Rail sites under water and more than 100 more hit by landslips.

There have been memorable highs along the way, but the ship hasn’t always sailed smoothly.

Regrettably, as Carne enters his last day as Network Rail CEO, his swan song will be remembered as nothing short of a catastrophe, with the chaos surrounding the summer timetabling the biggest blot on an otherwise impressive tenure.

Carne himself turned down his £74,000 bonus this year as a result of the timetable troubles, highlighting the standards he set of himself.

Electrification – or lack of – will also cause Carne some headaches when he looks back on his tenure, but as the former Shell vice president hands the reigns over to Andrew Haines he can rest assured that his CBE presented earlier in the year has been justly earned.

During his time as chief executive, he has steered the company through the period of being reclassified into the public sector, and overseen restructuring of the delivery plan to accommodate for a change in the company’s debt structure.

He has led from the front to transform the whole regulatory structure within the industry, while delivering the biggest projects in the history of the company, such as the iconic London Bridge station, which opened on time this year, and Birmingham New Street station in 2015.

Network Rail chairman Sir Peter Hendy CBE has praised Carne for an “outstanding job”.

He said: “Mark has done an outstanding job and I want to applaud him for what he has achieved in his time at Network Rail.

“His leadership steadied the ship during the challenging transition to a public sector organisation and he has been the architect behind the huge positive changes in the company, driving transformation, devolution and efficiency, with an emphasis on equality and diversity too.

“Three years ago he set out a strategic vision for a digital railway transformation which is now becoming a reality in our plans.

He added: “Throughout this he has maintained a determined focus on delivering the biggest upgrades to the railway in a hundred years. Perhaps his biggest legacy, however, is the change in safety culture that he has very personally led and which has done so much to make the railway and our workforce safer.”

Transport secretary Chris Grayling has equally applauded Carne for his time at the helm, praising him for “presiding over the biggest modernisation of our rail infrastructure since Victorian times”.

He said: “He has provided very strong industry leadership on safety and digital rail, and Network Rail has significantly improved the railway for its customers under his direction.

“His focus on devolving power to Network Rail’s route businesses has built the foundations for a more efficient and passenger-focussed organisation which supports the Government’s agenda to bring track and train closer together.

“Mark will of course continue to provide great leadership for Network Rail until he steps down in the summer, and I hope he will continue to play an important part in the transport sector in the future.”

Over to you Mr Haines…

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