Contractor brings in ‘inclusive manager’ to persuade Network Rail to reverse suspension

Carillion has removed Jol Bates, managing director of its rail division, in the aftermath of Network Rail’s decision to suspend the company from bidding for future projects because of its poor health and safety performance.

The move follows a restructuring of the £400m turnover division earlier this month, when it was announced that 300 of its 2500 rail staff were to be made redundant.

It has emerged that Richard Howson, second in command in the firm’s building division, has become the managing director of the rail business. It remains unclear whether Bates will stay in the business and report to Howson, or leave.

A company source said Howson’s brief was to overhaul the systems, procedures and safety culture to persuade Network Rail to lift the ban.

The source said: “Richard is a natural schmoozer. He’s a very inclusive manager and that’s why the chief executive wanted him at the front line to turn the division around and win back the confidence of Network Rail.

“He also has great experience of the sharp end. He delivered the first PFI hospital at Dartford, Kent, so has had first-hand experience of managing safe sites.”

In August Network Rail suspended Carillion from bidding for business because it was disappointed with the firm’s progress on a workforce safety improvement plan.

Network Rail said Carillion's present contracts would remain in place, allowing the firm to demonstrate improvements and work towards ending its suspension.

A Carillion spokesperson said that Howson’s appointment had been made to refocus the business.

She said: “It was felt that it was time to bring in new blood and look at new ways of doing things.”

She added that the company was aware that Network Rail was monitoring its work and that there was no meetings planned to review the suspension. She said: “It is an ongoing review.”

John McDonough, Carillion’s chief executive, has also promoted Don Kenny, 51, previously the managing director responsible for six Carillion business units, to the position of executive director.

Steve Mogford, 50, has been appointed as a non-executive director. Mogford has been a main board director of BAE Systems for more than six years. He is the chief operating officer responsible for programmes.