The West Somerset Railway (WSR) plc has taken steps to further strengthen the Board of Directors with three new role and advisor appointments.
Former WSR plc Managing Director and Heritage Railway Association (HRA) Vice Chairman Mark Smith, who became a plc director late last year, now becomes the company's new Vice Chairman and he will bring his wealth of heritage railway experience to bear on operations.
Mark Smith was MD of the WSR for 18 years from 1988 to 2006 and oversaw one of the biggest growth and successful periods seen on the 23 mile line before 'retiring' and taking on various roles with the HRA.
Martin Brown has been appointed as Safety & Compliance Adviser to the board initially, but with a view to him becoming a full director in due course after a trial period. Mr Brown is currently Crossrail's, or the Elizabeth Line's, Health and Safety Director.
He has a Mechanical Engineering Degree (Sheffield), an MA in Industrial Relations (Warwick) and undertook post graduate research work at Imperial College on impacts of the changes from the Health & Safety at Work Act.
He worked for the HSE covering most industry sectors but mainly construction including both inspection and enforcement, and policy. He has worked for Her Majesty’s Railway Inspectorate too (then within HSE) where he developed the safety case assessment protocols for the Inspectorate and wrote the still current HMRI competence guide, and for Tube Lines (London Underground Maintenance Company) as HSE Director.
He has also worked for London Rail (Dockland Light Railway/Trams/Overground) and led on assurance of the new Overground railway before moving to TFL (Transport for London) where he led on Health & Safety for London Underground.
Commenting on his appointment, Mr Brown said: "I am really excited to be joining the new Board of WSR as their Safety and Compliance Adviser. I know I can bring my experience to the role to ensure we can maintain a real heritage experience while delivering a 21st Century safety set up."
Following the recent decision to split the Signalling and Guards inspector functions and roles after the ORR review last year, long-serving WSR volunteer Chris Pratt has now been appointed as Acting Chief Signalling Inspector by new plc Vice Chairman Mark Smith.
This new role is part of the continued plan to take the WSR forward in best practice fashion, and the WSR has thanked Steve Bailey for covering the combined role in the interim but, given the WSR is the largest standard gauge line in the UK, it made perfect sense to split the inspector roles between Guards and Signalling.
Mark Smith comments: "Chris is well known on the WSR and offers over 45 years of signalling experience as well as over 25 years of being involved with the WSR. He will now be focussing on ensuring that the Signalling Department is fully compliant with current good practice and will be leading the team forward as part of our wide campaign to improve safe operations across the WSR.
“Chris had previously been the WSR Signalling Inspector, and more recently was an Advisor to the WSR plc Board and assisted in the ORR review process last year. He is also Chair of the Heritage Railways' Signalling Inspectors Group which was established some six years ago. He has a long term passion for the Minehead Branch signalling and spent many years visiting the signal boxes in British Railways days.”