High-flyer with vision of the future falls from grace

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The Independent Online
CHRISTIAN WOLMAR

Chris Green's venture outside the rail industry to English Heritage has ended in the first failure of a glittering career which almost took him to the chairmanship of British Rail.

He was a career railwayman who joined British Railways as a management trainee in the mid-Sixties and his first major job was as head of Scotrail in the early Eighties. He created the corporate identity of Scotrail and was to do much the same at Network SouthEast, created out of the old Southern Region

It takes a lot for a rail manager to become famous, but he became a well- known figure among commuters and rail passengers thanks to his strength of personality and his driving ambition to improve their lot. A colleague of that time said: "He was great fun to work with ... He had a vision of the future and took you with it."

He moved on to InterCity which became highly profitable, and was deeply disappointed that under privatisation it was to be split into half a dozen lines. Banned in a memo to all senior staff from the BR chairman, John Welsby, from speaking out against privatisation, he moved back to Scotland to run Scotrail. But he was again critical of the privatisation because he wanted Scotrail's infrastructure and services to remain together, rather than being separated into Railtrack and an operating company.

Disillusioned by what was happening to the railways, he was headhunted by English Heritage where, surprisingly, he adopted a low-profile role, allowing Jocelyn Stevens, the chairman, to be its public face. Mr Green is leaving after allegations of "administrative irregularities" and another former colleague said: "He was one for the grand vision and sometimes did not pay sufficient details to the nitty-gritty of exactly how much was being spent."

EH's loss may be the rail industry's gain. Steve Knight, news editor of Rail magazine said: "He was the best chairman BR never had ... There aren't many jobs that are big enough in the industry for Chris, but he may be tempted to go in with one of the groups bidding for the West Coast Main Line." The line needs pounds 1bn of investment to become Britain's premier rail route and that is probably the only job that might tempt Mr Green back into the industry.

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