Our Board of Directors is made up of experienced and recognisable figureheads, thought leaders and opinion formers from leading railway operators.

Together they offer a wealth and breadth of experience which informs our unique approach to learning and ensures our academic opportunities and development pathways are current, accurate and relevant.

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Howard Smith FIRO

IRO Chair, Chief Operating Officer, Crossrail, TfL

Howard is currently TfL’s Operations Director for Crossrail/Elizabeth line. Having studied Economics, Howard joined British Rail’s graduate scheme and managed a wide variety of stations and train operations in the London area, before moving to the Channel Tunnel project and operating freight services to France and Italy. As TfL’s Chief Operating Officer London Rail, from 2004, Howard lead the expansion of the DLR and London Trams as well as the creation of the London Overground. He helped plan and deliver transport for the London 2012 Games before moving to his present role. Working with the IRO Board and Chief Executive Howard will help guide the strategic direction of the IRO as it continues its work to professionalise railway operations, delivering education and mentor schemes and expanding membership worldwide. Howard said ‘at a time when railways are very much in the news, it’s more important than ever that we build the skills and recognition of the true professionals who keep things moving. The IRO is a critical part of this and I look forward to build on the work done by Alex and continuing to expand the activities and membership of the organisation.

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Ellie Burrows FIRO

Route Director, Network Rail

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Louise Cheeseman

Managing Director, Hull Trains

Louise Cheeseman’s rise to Managing Director of Hull Trains is a remarkable journey through various roles in the rail industry which has helped to shape success for various companies worldwide. Hull-born, Louise joined the rail industry after a long and successful career in banking. Her career in the rail industry began with a role as a Train Guard with Northern Rail in 2001. Louise’s ability to achieve in the industry was quickly evident, resulting in a progression through various senior management positions within Northern. Ahead of the London Olympics and Paralympics, Louise joined Serco in 2012, successfully spearheading the operations for the Docklands Light Railway during a period of increased passenger numbers. Her success in implementation was recognised worldwide within Serco – resulting in Louise aiding in the preparation of a light rail bid in Sydney. In 2015, Louise joined RATP Metrolink as Service Delivery Director at Metrolink specifically to lead the large complex expansion of the tram network linking both sides of Manchester city centre. In 2017, Louise joined FirstGroup’s Hull Trains as Director of Service Delivery, before being instated as Managing Director in June 2018 – making her the only female Managing Director of a train operating company in the UK. She now leads the team into a new ambitious era which will transform the company and build on the strong foundations Hull Trains has put in place over the last 18 years. A major £60m investment will see a new fleet of state-of-the-art trains operating between Hull and London. The new Class 802 trains, which will be some of the most technologically advanced, fastest and comfortable services on Britain’s railways, will be operational from Hull in December 2019.

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Andrew Jones

Digital Initiation Director, Network Rail

A career railway employee Andrew joined the industry in 1981 and spent his early years in signaller and controller roles while moving through supervisory and management position. He was Area Operations Manager for routes into Liverpool and then on the WCML (Euston to Crewe). He held the accountability as the Professional Head of Operations for Railtrack and then as Head of Operations Competency he looked to drive the introduction of non-technical skills for frontline operators. Since 2014 Andrew has been working on the delivery of new technology first within the National Operating Strategy Programme and now within the Digital Railway Programme. His team have recently delivered the traffic management systems now in use; and his mantra for successfully delivering and achieving benefit from new technology is to strive to put the operator and their needs at the forefront of design.

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Ben Rule FIRO

Rail Operations Director, HS2

Ben is currently Rail Operations Director for HS2. His role is to lead the team that is preparing to operate one of the world’s highest frequency high speed rail lines. He was previously Production Director at CrossCountry and Operations Director at GWR. Over the past 20 years he has also worked as an Inspector for the Rail Accident Investigation Branch and as an Area Operations Manager at Network Rail. Since 2014 Ben has been part of the IRO membership committee. He is a Fellow of the Institution.

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Fiona Tordoff AIRO

CEO, Institution of Railway Operators

Ben is currently Rail Operations Director for HS2. His role is to lead the team that is preparing to operate one of the world’s highest frequency high speed rail lines. He was previously Production Director at CrossCountry and Operations Director at GWR. Over the past 20 years he has also worked as an Inspector for the Rail Accident Investigation Branch and as an Area Operations Manager at Network Rail. Since 2014 Ben has been part of the IRO membership committee. He is a Fellow of the Institution.

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Jim Meade FIRO

Chief Executive, Irish Rail

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Helen Waters MIRO

Associate Director, Steer

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Andy Joy

Sector Director Rail Consulting & Rail, Amey

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Tom Joyner AIRO

Managing Director, Cross Country Trains

Tom joined CrossCountry as Managing Director in 2019 after a successful career in many operational and customer strategy leadership roles in the transport sector. Previously Managing Director of Arriva Train Wales, he was also Passenger Services Director for London Midland and has also held board and leadership roles at First Group and National Express train operating companies – as well as two years spent developing future projects at Network Rail.

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Phil James FIRO

Route Director, North West at Network Rail

Phil was appointed Route Director North West at Network Rail in 2019 and had previously been Head of Operations for the London North Western Route. Phil has worked at British Rail, Railtrack and now Network Rail beginning his career in 1987. Working his way up from the Youth Training Scheme, into signalling, operations supervision and management and led a Maintenance Delivery unit. His specialties are Leadership, Safety Leadership, People Management, Infrastructure Maintenance, Operations Management, Transport Planning, Employee Engagement and Union Negotiation. He says “As a leader I thoroughly enjoy building and improving teams to achieve and exceed the objectives and vision we have for the company.”