Union leaders have hit out at the “staggering” appointment of a new chief operating officer for ScotRail with no railways experience.
Joanne Maguire, 42, will take up the role on day one of the newly state-owned train operator on April 1 next year.
She is currently resources vice principal at the University of the West of Scotland responsible for finance, human resources, information services and health and safety.
According to her university profile, Ms Maguire has “vast experience” in human resources, including as HR director at City of Glasgow College and as head of HR for global food manufacturing company, Bakkavör Group.
But ministers have come under fire over her appointment at ScotRail after it emerged she has no experience in railways.
Transport minister ‘must meet with unions’
Train drivers union Aslef described the appointment as a “huge error”.
Kevin Lindsay, Aslef Scotland Organiser said: “The appointment of a chief operating officer with not one day’s experience from within the railway is staggering.
“Scotland has a chance to build its new publicly operated railway properly yet ScotRail and the Scottish Government have made a huge error before the first train has left the station.
“We need to be getting Scotland back on track with a world-class service that’s affordable and helps meet our climate targets.
What is going on – the new COO of Scotrail has no experience of the railways and ahead of the new set up there has not been a single meeting with @ASLEFunion @RMTunion @TSSAunion or @UniteScotland
To discuss what the new railway will look like – what’s @GraemeDeyMSP doing? https://t.co/lDrHCQZKeW
— Neil Findlay (@Neilsocialist) December 20, 2021
“Yet days after announcing fare hikes we learn that this crucial appointment has been made to someone with no experience of running the railways.
“The transport minister must meet with Aslef and other rail unions immediately if our new service is to be prevented from going off the rails.”
Appointment comes as trains nationalised
Ms Maguire will take over from current chief operating officer Ian McConnell as Scottish Rail Holdings, the new public body created to oversee Scotland’s trains, takes over from Dutch state-owned company Abellio in April.
Abellio took over the ScotRail franchise in 2015 but had its contract ended early amid criticism over cancellations and performance levels.
The Scottish Government announced in March that ScotRail will be nationalised.
Alex Hynes, managing director of ScotRail, said he is “delighted we have managed to secure Joanne’s agreement to join ScotRail trains at what is an exciting time for Scotland’s Railway”.
He said Ms Maguire “brings a wealth of leadership experience to this role, which will be vital as we transition to the new public body”.
A Transport Scotland spokeswoman said: “The Scottish Government welcomes the appointment which we understand was conducted through a fair and open recruitment process.”