BR sell-off critic resigns

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Chris Green, one of the most respected and experienced railway managers, has resigned as Director of Scotrail, dealing a major blow to the Government's rail privatisation plans.

Mr Green, 51, a career railwayman, had been increasingly vocal in his criticism of privatisation, and recently warned in a press interview that Scotrail was facing major cuts in staff and trains. He was concerned that the industry did not have the backing of the Government which he felt was trying to "run down" the railways. He felt that "a better railway could only be achieved by higher levels of subsidy".

He was also critical of the division of the railways between Railtrack and the 25 train companies, of which Scotrail was one. Earlier this month he also said that he was unable to offer passengers on the North Berwick line a proper service because of the failings of Railtrack.

Mr Green has an almost legendary reputation in the industry having turned InterCity, which he headed between 1992 and 1994, into a profitable service offering much higher standards of customer care than previously despite losing passengers during the recession. He was prepared to use private sector methods in the rail industry, often head-hunting private sector managers, but was angered at what he saw as the dogmatic obsession of ministers to privatise the railway in a way that was bureaucratic and very complicated.

He had only been director of Scotrail - the second time in that role - since last April. Before InterCity, he was director of Network SouthEast for five years, presiding over a period of growth in passenger numbers and earning a reputation as the commuters' friend.

A spokesman for Scotrail said: "There will be tears throughout Scotland among both passengers and staff."

Brian Wilson, Labour's spokesman for industry said: "This is the ultimate indictment of the sheer folly of what the Tories are doing to the railway. Chris Green made InterCity into a profitable and successful company, then had to watch it be dismembered for no reason other than political spite."

Mr Green is leaving Scotrail at the end of the month to take up a public sector post in London.