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Anthony Dick Fearn

I am currently the independent chair the Supervisory Board for the Western Route of Network Rail. The Board brings together Network Rail’s Route Director, Western and the Managing Directors of the principal train operators on the route, namely GWR, MTR Crossrail, Heathrow Express and Cross Country, along with, at some meetings, the freight operators DB Cargo and Freightliner. The aim of the Board is to improve the coordination of effort between the rail industry partners on the route and in so doing improve service quality for the direct benefit of passengers and freight customers.

This is a part-time, non-executive position and I have now retired from full-time executive roles. My last full-time position was Chief Executive of Iarnrod Eireann/Irish Rail, the nationally owned and operated railway company of the Republic of Ireland. I held that post for 7 years from 2006 to 2013 and it represented the high point of my railway career, which began 46 years ago when I joined British Rail as a student trainee at the age of 18 in 1973.           

My studies for the Masters degree in Transport Economics at ITS in the 1980’s greatly helped my career development in the railway industry both in the UK and Ireland. First of all, the MA degree studies gave me a much greater understanding of the economics of passenger and freight rail transport, at the level of both current business operations and longer term strategic planning. In turn this then helped me in advancing my career, by enabling me to demonstrate that I had the wider intellectual breadth necessary to secure more senior management appointments in the rail industry.   

When I commenced my ITS course I was employed by British Rail in its Leeds Division. The Divisional Manager at that time was aware of the work of ITS and the courses available. He recommended to me that I should study for the MA in Transport Economics on a part-time basis over two years and British Rail agreed to fund my studies. I saw this as a great opportunity and I gladly followed his advice.

My appointment to the post of Chief Executive of Iarnrod Eireann/Irish Rail in 2006, a post I held until I retired from full-time executive work in 2013, was definitely the highlight of my career. While in that role I led the implementation of a €2bn+ total route modernisation programme to double the frequency and capacity of passenger rail services in the Republic of Ireland. The programme also transformed service quality and circa 50m passenger journeys per annum are now made by rail in Ireland.   

I would strongly recommend, to any student interested in developing their career in the transport industry, a Masters degree course of study at ITS. I think the course would greatly expand their capabilities in the transport field and I believe it would also enhance their CV to give them a competitive edge for future job opportunities in the transport sector.  ITS has an excellent international reputation and I think qualifications obtained at ITS will benefit students seeking opportunities in the transport sector worldwide.