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Sunday, February 17, 2013

Tube Boss goes "Down Under" - Howard Collins to head up Sydney's rail system

After 35 years at TfL, Howard Collins (who's been Chief Operating Officer of London Underground for the last five years) is going "down under". Later this year he'll be taking on the challenge of Sydney's rail system - City Rail soon to be re-named Sydney Trains.

Howard Collins by Trowbridge Estate
Photo by TrowbridgeEstate

Collins who visited Sydney a couple of weeks ago, and feels Sydney's system is decades behind the Tube He said:  "When I travelled it reminded me of the London Underground 25 years ago in terms of the ticketing, the technology, the environment. That's what I want to help improve."

Howard Collins & Andy Barr by Hawkeye2011
Howard Collins at London Underground 150th Anniversary Celebrations - photo by Hawkeye2011

Throughout his long TfL career, Collins has done everything from driving trains, to working in signalling.  As head of London Underground, Collins was instrumental in dealing with the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on our network in 2005.  He also surprised critics by making sure the Tube ran smoothly during the last year's Olympics.  Add putting Wi-Fi on the Tube and it's clear he's had a highly successful career and is respected amongst TfL staff and seen as part of the "old guard".  He was noticeably very "hands on" during the operation of steam trains for the London Underground's 150th birthday celebrations.  He was awarded an OBE in the New Years honours for his services during the Olympics.

His new job as CEO of Sydney Trains comes with a $530,000 (£350,000) salary and Collins thinks he'll be "good value for money".  He said "It's a big life change, it's a big move. Living in Sydney's probably one of the most expensive places in the world."  In addition to investment, Collins is aware that  improved customer service will go a long way to encourage more people in Sydney to get onto commuter trains.

Roundel in Sydney by Paul Holloway

Although Sydney doesn't have an underground metro system (yet), some of the stations on the central loop are below ground.  However, it appears that the roundel is already in place to make Collins feel at home (even if this is in a below ground railway bar)!

Hat tip to Aussie P from Sydney who first told me about Collins' new role.

I'd like to wish Howard all the best in Sydney and hope that his replacement understands railways and has the same enthusiasm for the Tube's heritage too.  Maybe they'll even have the same taste in colourful ties (presuming a man will get the job!).  Are there any women that reach senior positions on the London Underground or on railways in general.

You might also like
Steam Train on the London Underground for 150th Tube Anniversary Celebrations
How the Tube Network Coped with the Olympics


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