06 Dec 2023

Light rail industry leader to chair West Midlands tram operator


One of the UK’s top light rail executives has been appointed as the new chair of Midland Metro Limited (MML), the operator of the West Midlands’ expanding tram network.

Phil Hewitt (pictured), who has more than 30 years’ previous experience in the sector, previously served as Metro director at Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) ahead of the launch of tram services through to the Library of Birmingham in 2019.

A former chair of the tramway sector’s representative organisation, UKTram, and of the Light Rail Safety and Standards Board, Mr Hewitt has also played a key role in a series of other landmark urban transport projects.

Now, as the Metro heads towards further expansion, Mr Hewitt says he’s looking forward to supporting the Board of Directors and working with the MML management team as a new era for the network approaches.

He said: “The undoubted popularity of the tram amongst the travelling public is down to the hard work and dedication of the MML team, and I’m relishing the opportunity of working once more with the other board members and the new managing director as she implements her plans to ensure the organisation is ready for the future.

“By following the principles of ‘plan, do, review’, I’m confident that together we can drive the Metro’s popularity to new heights as we deliver the expansion of Metro services that will contribute to WMCA’s plans to transform mobility across the region.”

Currently an executive consultant at global professional services firm WSP, Mr Hewitt brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to his new role.

As the chief executive, and later chair, of Tramlink Nottingham, he led the Concessionaire through the NET Phase 2 project, working in close collaboration with the local authority, construction partners, and the operator to ensure the successful launch of services to Toton and Clifton South in 2015.

He has also held senior positions at London Trams and London Tramlink, having started his career in the transport industry with London Underground as a graduate trainee in 1988.

MML is wholly owned by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), of which TfWM is part. 

Anne Shaw, executive director TfWM, led the appointment process.

She said: “West Midlands Metro is a crucial part of our regional transport network and key to our plans to decarbonise our transport and offer people sustainable, convenient and affordable alternatives to the car for their journeys.

“As a result it is going through a period of expansion and great change with new extensions under development and a doubling of the tram fleet.

“So we are delighted that Phil Hewitt, who knows West Midlands Metro well, is returning to us to give us the benefit of his vast experience.

“His expertise on the Metro board will be crucial in advising and guiding the organisation as it continues to grow and provides an improved service to passengers.”

Mr Hewitt will take up the position at MML in January, replacing the current chair Sophie Allison, who has recently been confirmed as managing director for the company.

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