Last chairman of BR appointed

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Indy Politics
John Welsby, British Rail's chief executive, has been appointed as the last chairman of BR. He will take up the post on 1 April when the current chairman, Sir Bob Reid, retires.

Mr Welsby's promotion to the £180,000 post was widely expected. The new chairman's main job will be to oversee the sale of about 100 businesses, ranging from the 25 train operating companies and 13 engineering and maintenance companies to an occupational therapy unit and a specialist signalling design company.

Mr Welsby, 56, has been BR's chief executive since 1990; he joined BR in 1979. Although he has co-operated with the Government's privatisation plans, Mr Welsby is not a supporter of privatisation or of the restructuring of the industry in preparation for privatisation, in particular its split into the train operating companies and Railtrack. Mr Welsby had overseen the previous "organisation for quality" re-organisation which had been widely regarded as a success in making BR Europe's most efficient railway.

Mr Welsby has been appointed as chairman until 25 May 1998, his 60th birthday. By then, if the Tories win the next election, there will be virtually no BR left.