Alison Munro appointed as chair to National College for High Speed Rail

One of the UK’s most respected leaders in the development of new transport infrastructure, Alison Munro CBE, has joined the newly opened National College for High Speed Rail as chair of the Board. 

Ms Munro, the former CEO and then Managing Director of HS2, led the development of Britain’s second high speed rail line from its inception (in January 2009 to August 2017), having previously secured the deal on HS1 for the section from London to Ebbsfleet.

Now an advisor to HS2 and a non-executive director at OFWAT (the Water Services Regulation Authority), Ms Munro previously led the strategy and implementation plans for a £6 billion programme for advanced management of motorways, working for the Department for Transport. 

She brings with her a wealth of experience to the National College for High Speed Rail – the largest of five national colleges created by the Government to ensure British workers learn world-class skills.

The College has been designed as an employer-led institution which will train Britain’s next generation of engineers and leaders in high speed rail and infrastructure, from two newly built campuses in Doncaster and Birmingham. 

HS2 will create 25,000 jobs in total across the construction and operation of the new railway. Over the next five years it is estimated that businesses in Britain will need 182,000 new engineers every year. Right now, we’re falling short by 69,000 engineers a year. The National College will help to solve the engineering, design, planning, manufacturing and construction skills gap that Britain faces as it looks to invest billions of pounds in modernising its rail network and wider transport infrastructure. 

Ms Munro previously led on all aspects of HS2, Europe’s largest rail infrastructure project before becoming the managing director of its development where she successfully delivered the UK’s largest ever hybrid bill, which gained support, approvals and funding from Government, to reach the point of starting construction last year of the London to Birmingham section.   

In her new role as chair, Ms Munro will take the lead on the college’s aim of ensuring that the UK has the skills to deliver high speed rail and capitalise on the job opportunities that high speed rail brings, improving diversity across a sector in which only a small minority of workers are currently either young, female, or from BAME backgrounds. 

Alison Munro said:

“This is an incredibly exciting appointment. Having spent most of my professional career developing British infrastructure I am tremendously excited about developing the skills and careers of the people who build the next generation of British infrastructure.

It’s a pleasure to have this opportunity to work with Clair Mowbray and the team on such an ambitious and inspiring project.  We’re looking forward to making a significant difference to Britain’s railway sector, by boosting skills and preparing the future workforce for major infrastructure projects including HS2 and beyond.”  

Clair Mowbray. chief executive of the National College for High Speed Rail, said:

“Having Alison join our Board is a real coup for the college.  Her experience from the early days of establishing HS2 to present, will be highly valuable in developing the college’s strategic direction for the years to come. 

“With females accounting for only 9% of Britain’s engineers and just 6% of Britain’s rail workers, having a female chair is also highly appropriate; Alison is one of Britain’s most respected leaders for the development of transport infrastructure.  She is an exceptional role model for the rail and infrastructure sectors and I’m sure that with her counsel and direction, the college will be on track to make a tangible and positive difference to this sector.”   

Ms Munro is supported by 13 additional Board members who include the college’s CEO Clair Mowbray and a number of voluntary, independent members who draw on their experience from the business community, rail and engineering professions, as well as the wider public sector, to set the college’s strategic direction and ensure that it delivers on its targets.  They include representatives from the University of Birmingham, Doncaster Council, Volker Wessels UK, Hitachi, Rhomberg Sersa UK Ltd, and many other organisations.  

Two seats on the Board are also reserved for staff and student members.  Alex Tranter, apprenticeship engagement manager at the College, and Nick Kataria, a full-time learner studying for the Level 4 Certificate of Higher Education (Cert HE) in High Speed Rail and Infrastructure, have been appointed to the Board for the 2017-18 academic year.   

Applications are currently open for learners to begin courses and apprenticeships at the National College for High Speed Rail, with the next apprenticeship intake in May, followed by a larger intake of Cert HE learners and further apprentices in September 2018. For more information on how to apply, and to find out how the National College for High Speed Rail will play a key role in generating the workforce of the future to design and build the UK’s new high-speed rail network and future infrastructure projects: www.nchsr.ac.uk 

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