Steve Norris

Chairman , National Rail Conference

Steve Norris was a Conservative Member of Parliament for Oxford East and then Epping Forest from 1983 to 1997.  He was Parliamentary Private Secretary in the Departments of Environment, Trade & Industry and the Home Office and in 1992 was appointed Minister for Transport with a special responsibility for all London transport.  After retiring from Parliament he was twice his party’s candidate for Mayor of London outperforming the national party substantially on both occasions.  He is a former Vice-Chairman of the Conservative Party.

Steve has combined a career in politics with a business career in the fields of property, infrastructure and transportation.  He is currently Chairman of BNP Paribas Real Estate UK and of Soho Estates.   He is also Chairman of Virtus Data Centres.  He is a Non-Executive Director of Excel the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Company conference centre in East London.  He has been a member of the Boards of both Transport for London and the London Development Agency and served on the Treasury’s Growth Task Force for HS2.  He is on the Board of Cubic Corporation, the developers and managers of the London Oyster card.  Having a particular interest in infrastructure he chairs the National Infrastructure Planning Association which works with government to improve the planning regime around major projects and advises a number of clients on major schemes.  

He is a Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, a Companion of the Institution of Civil Engineers, a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport and an Honorary Fellow of the Project Managers Association. 


Sir David Higgins

Chairman, HS2 Ltd

On January 1 2014, David Higgins was appointed Non-Executive Chairman of High Speed Two (HS2) Ltd.

On April 1 2010, he was appointed a Non-Executive Director of Network Rail Infrastructure Ltd. On September 28 2010, he was appointed Chief Executive of Network Rail Infrastructure Ltd with effect from February 1 2011.

Higgins was appointed Chief Executive Designate of the Olympic Delivery Authority in December 2005 and appointed Chief Executive with effect from March 30 2006. Prior to December 2005, he was Chief Executive of English Partnerships, the Government’s national regeneration agency, for three years.

Higgins graduated in Civil Engineering from the University of Sydney and holds a Diploma from the Securities Institute of Australia. Following graduation, he spent time working in the UK and Africa, returning to Australia in 1981 to join the Lend Lease Group - an international property and construction company - in 1985. In 1995, he was appointed Managing Director and Group Chief Executive of the Group.



Paul Plummer

Chief Executive, Rail Delivery Group

Paul took up his role as Chief Executive of the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) in November 2015. He began working in the railway sector in 1999 when he became Chief Economist and Director of Economics and Finance at the Office of Rail Regulation. He went on to join Network Rail in 2002, and in 2008 he was appointed to the Network Rail Board as an Executive Director and Group Strategy Director at Network Rail Infrastructure Limited. In 2011, he became one of two Network Rail members of the RDG.



Councillor Bob Sleigh

Chairman, West Midlands Combined Authority

Prior to becoming Solihull Leader he was Deputy Leader for eight years and Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing.

He is a Director of Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership and West Midlands Rail. He has previously held non-executive positions with the NHS and was formerly Chairman of the West Midlands Probation Service.
He has been Conservative Association Chairman twice and sits on the management committee for Solihull Borough Conservatives.
Bob has a long business career, principally with SMEs, and has recently retired from Birmingham based Gee & Co, where he held the position of Business Development Manager.

Councillor Sleigh is also the portfolio lead member for HS2 growth strategy, devolution deals and communications & engagement.



Laura Shoaf

Managing Director, Transport for West Midlands

Laura Shoaf is Managing Director of Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) – part of the West Midlands Combined Authority. She has more than 20 years’ international experience in delivering integrated economic and spatial regeneration.

After leaving her native USA, Laura became Head of Strategic Planning and Implementation at the Black Country Consortium and was instrumental in the creation of the Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

As Black Country Director of Transport, Laura championed and led the area’s transport agenda, directly advising Chief Executives, Leaders and the LEP.
In 2015, Laura became Strategic Director for Transport at the West Midlands Integrated Transport Authority and then in June 2016 took up her current position where she is responsible for key initiatives across the metropolitan area such as Midlands Connect, the HS2 Connectivity Package and the region’s Strategic Transport Plan, liaising with Government departments and regional agencies for the benefit of the West Midlands. She is also responsible for delivering a £4billion transport package over the next 10 years underpinning economic regeneration in the region.

Laura is a Chartered Member of the Royal Town Planning Institute and a committee member of both UITP and EMTA, highly-respected international and European organisations dedicated to promoting public transport and the dissemination of best practice.



Patrick Twist

Chairman and Partner, GBS Business Transport Group and Pinsent Masons

Patrick has been involved in most aspects of infrastructure through his career at Pinsent Masons, specialising in financing.  In his consultancy role he has a particular interest in the Transport sector: He is Chairman of the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Business Transport Group and of the Connectivity Committee of the GBS Local Enterprise Partnership and is a passionate advocate of HS2 and was an original member of the Steering Committee of Midlands Connect.



Beth West

Commercial Director, HS2 Ltd

Beth West joined HS2 Ltd as Commercial Director in October 2012 and is responsible for commercial strategy, procurement, supplier management, economic analysis, and skills, employment and education. She also represents HS2 Ltd on the board of the National College for High Speed Rail, the Strategic Transport Apprenticeship Taskforce (STAT) and the Infrastructure Client Group.  

Prior to joining HS2 Ltd, West spent nine years at Transport for London (TfL). She joined TfL in 2003 and spent the first half of her career there working with Public-Private Partnership (PPP) and Private Finance Initiative (PFI) contracts, firstly as a Principal in the Corporate Finance team and secondly as the Head of Commercial Advisory and Risk at London Underground, providing commercial advice and strategy.

In 2009, West became Head of Commercial Procurement at London Underground and was responsible for delivering improved commercial capability for the business. In 2011, she became Commercial Director at Tube Lines where she was responsible for procurement, risk management, assurance and business planning and controls.
Before this West worked for eight years as a project finance banker in New York and London for Société Générale and Credit Suisse, covering the power and oil & gas sectors. She started her career on Capitol Hill in Washington DC, working for the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives.

West has an M.A. in European studies and international economics from the School for Advanced International Studies of Johns Hopkins University and a B.A. in politics from the College of William and Mary.



Speaker from Colas


Andrew McNaughton

Chief Operating Officer, Systra

Andrew was appointed as Chief Operating Officer of the Systra Group in June 2016. Systra specialises in rail and public transport engineering and consultancy services. Andrew was previously Director of Engineering and Construction for Tidal Lagoon Swansea Bay Plc.

Andrew has some 30 years’ experience of delivering major infrastructure in the UK and overseas.  As both a project manager and an executive officer he has been responsible for many of the country’s major infrastructure projects in recent years, including Terminals 2 and 5 at Heathrow, the widening of the M25 and the Channel Tunnel Rail Link.

Prior to his appointment at Tidal Lagoon, Andrew was the Chief Executive Officer of Balfour Beatty plc (until May 2014). Prior to joining Balfour Beatty, Andrew spent 10 years with the Kier Group. He held a range of executive positions in his 17 years at Balfour Beatty, including Chief Operating Officer and latterly Chief Executive Officer.

Andrew is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering. He has served as a Vice President of the Institution of Civil Engineers and was previously named Civil Engineering Manager of the Year by the Institution.

Andrew was appointed as a British Business Ambassador in January 2014. He led a high level HVO Healthcare Infrastructure trade mission, on behalf of UK Trade & Investment, to Hong Kong and Southern China in March 2015, to assess the opportunities for the UK sector.   



Jim Brewin

Head of Business Development, Hitachi

Jim Brewin is Head of Business Development at Hitachi Rail Europe. He has more than 15 years’ experience in the UK rail industry and is currently overseeing Hitachi’s bid for High Speed 2 rolling stock and maintenance contracts.

Having begun his career in rail at Brush Traction as a Test Engineer, Jim was part of the Hitachi team that delivered the Class 465 traction replacement programme and the Class 395 Javelin™ fleet into passenger service in 2009.

During his time in sales he has overseen rolling stock contract wins for Abellio ScotRail, Great Western Railway, TransPennine Express and Hull Trains totalling over 500 new rail vehicles for the UK market place.

A native of the north east of England, Jim is passionate about the role of Hitachi’s UK manufacturing facility in Co. Durham and the long term benefits of employment and skills development that it will provide for the region and wider rail industry.



Clair Mowbray

Chief Executive, National College for High Speed Rail

Clair joined HS2 Ltd to lead on the development of the National College for High Speed Rail in 2014.  She has been instrumental in taking the project from concept through to its current stage of development, working across stakeholders to achieve buy-in and support for the project.  She was appointed as Chief Executive of the National College for High Speed Rail in September 2016.

Prior to this Clair was involved in strategic planning and development of 14-19 education, supported organisations through merger and advised government on policy.  More recently she worked to develop a new approach to education and skills development for the South West Strategic Health Authority that focused on immersive virtual learning and professional development.

Clair’s career is characterised by working with organisations dedicated to supporting people through skills development.  Her wide experience is an excellent platform for successfully implementing the National College, given its clear mandate to closely link skills development with the economy.  Clair is passionate about promoting the opportunities that the high speed rail sector affords to a wide range of learners through an innovative teaching model.



Professor Peter Woodward

Chair in High Speed Rail Engineering, Leeds University

Professor Peter Woodward takes up his new role as Chairman in High Speed Rail Engineering at the University of Leeds in June. The appointment of Professor Woodward, who is currently an industry sponsored Professor of High Speed Rail at Heriot-Watt University, comes at an important time in the growth and development of the University and the City because of the region’s role in unlocking the potential of the Northern Powerhouse and HS2.

Professor Woodward will be responsible for developing a new Institute for High Speed Rail Engineering at the University, using his expertise in geotechnical engineering to create a world leading research and innovation hub with an emphasis on train-track interaction and infrastructure systems.
This will complement other university-based research centres in the UK and respond to industry demand for undergraduate and postgraduate skills in railway engineering and other related areas.

The Institute will also work with a range of international partners including Southwest Jiaotong University in China, where Leeds has opened a new Joint School.

A distinguished researcher, Professor Woodward has played a key role in developing the polymer based track stabilisation system known as XiTRACK, which has increased track speed and reduced maintenance costs in a number of rail networks.
For example, this technology was used to stabilise the track bed at Clapham Junction, one of the busiest railway junctions in Europe with more than 2,500 trains passing through every day.



Jackie Brock-Doyle

Director of communication strategy and implementation, London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games , JBD Integrated Communications Limited

Jackie has worked in the communication and marketing field for over 25 years and is regarded as one of the world’s leading communication strategists.  She is currently leading the communications for the worldwide athletics federation and runs her own integrated communications company. 

She was the chairman and group CEO at Good Relations, an integrated PR, brand communications and CSR agency, between 2013 and 2015. Prior to that Jackie directed the communication strategy and implementation for the world acclaimed London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games for 7 years after leading the successful bid’s international and domestic PR and Media campaign from 2003 to 2006.

Jackie has lived and worked in the UK, Australia and Singapore and has run campaigns across Europe, the USA, Asia Pacific, Australasia, Africa and the Middle East. She has designed and directed marketing, communication, media and sponsorship programs for some of the world’s biggest brands and events, including Visa International, the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, Cadbury, the 2002 Manchester Commonwealth Games, Coca Cola, Samsung, Mars and currently the London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games.

She brings a depth of international experience having worked across a number of countries and for leading international businesses.  She also has significant expertise in crisis communications, strategic planning, vision and message development and implementation, stakeholder, internal and public affairs management and media relations across the globe. Jackie has worked at the highest levels of Government and business and has a proven record for managing and getting the best out of large teams; she is results driven, strategic in planning and creative in execution. Jackie has received numerous accolades for her work in the UK and overseas and was awarded an OBE by the Queen in the 2013 New Year’s Honors List for services to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. 

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