The 29th and 30th of November will see the first Rail Ops Conference take place, hosted by CIRO and sponsored by corporate members. Free to anyone in rail, the two-day event is the largest learning E-conference in rail, featuring over 30 hours of content, delivered by leading figures from all areas of the rail industry.

In addition to a host of prominent speakers, there will also be various opportunities to take part in discussions, Q&A sessions and to visit specialist areas such as the Careers in Rail, 21st Century Operations Portfolio and Systems Thinking areas.


Confirmed Speakers

Rail Ops 2021 will offer insight and knowledge across a wide and varied range of industry topics over the two days.

All content delivered at the event will be closely mapped to the CIRO Professional Operators Development (POD) framework, meaning that it can directly contribute to visitors’ CPD. The concept is to offer multiple opportunities to increase visitors’ knowledge in all aspects of rail operations.


Howard Smith

Topic: Opening Address

Date: 29.11.21

Time: 9:30 – 10:00

Mark Hopwood

Topic: The changing role of the TOC MD

Date: 29.11.21

Time: 10:00 – 11:00 

Mark is the Managing Director of Great Western Railway.

Starting his career at Reading station in 1989 he worked for British Rail, Railtrack and several train operators including Thames Trains, First North Western, c2c, Silverlink, Gatwick Express and WAGN.



Karl Watts

Topic: Introducing a new Locomotive Fleet onto the UK Rail Network

Date: 29.11.21

Time: 11:00 – 12:00

Karl is a career railwayman, businessman and entrepreneur. Starting in British Rail Eastern Region’s Motive Power Department in 1978, Karl has risen through the ranks to become the CEO of Rail Operations UK





Andrew Haines

Topic: Future Ops Through People Development

Date: 29.11.21

Time: 12:00 – 1:00

Andrew Haines was appointed as Chief Executive and Board member of Network Rail in August 2018.




Anna-Jane Hunter – 03 November 2020



Phil Dargue & Anna Jayne Hunter

Topic: Organising a large scale change initiative 

Date: 29.11.21

Time: 13:00 – 14:00

Anna-jane is a Rail Operations Professional with an expertise in complex stakeholder relations.





Andrew Pennington

Topic: Operational Planning and Timetabling 

Date: 29.11.21

Time: 14:00 – 15:00 

Since 2014 Andrew Pennington has led the joint South Western Railway/Network Rail (Wessex) Alliance planning team being uniquely accountable within the UK rail industry’s structure for both the Train Operator’s train planning function and the Route’s engineering access planning and delivery activities.



David Sexton

Topic: Restoring your railway initiative

Date: 29.11.21

Time: 15:00 – 16:00

David Sexton has a career in railway operations spanning over 40 years.  Starting as an LUL traffic management trainee, he spent his first 17 years on the Docklands Light Railway and LUL, working on the design and delivery of a new railway then covering management of stations, trains, and safety on a much older railway.


David Davidson

Topic: Business Mapping and Industrial Relations Engagement 

Date: 30.11.21

Time: 10:00 – 11:00


Nick Donovan

Topic: Network Performance Board

Date: 30.11.21

Time: 11:00 – 12:00

Nick Donovan is Managing Director of Northern Trains Limited, taking up the role in March 2020 as the business transferred ownership.


Darren King

Topic: Planning & Future Operation of the Railway 

Date: 30.11.21

Time: 12:00 – 13:00

Darren is a Chartered Fellow of the Institute of Logistics & Transport as well as being a Fellow of the Chartered Institution of Railway Operators an international rail advisor with 42 years’ experience in railway business planning and operations.



Dyan Crowther & Richard Thorp

Topic: Sustainability in Rail

Date: 30.11.21

Time: 13:00 – 14:00

Prior to joining HS1, Dyan was the Chief Operating Officer at Govia Thameslink Railway.


Patrick Hoverstadt

Topic: Introduction to Systems Thinking

Date: 30.11.21

Time: 14:00 – 15:00

Patrick Hoverstadt chairs SCiO the professional body for systems practitioners.

He has worked as a consultant since 1995 specialising in working with very large complex organisations including whole sectors, using systems approaches.




Tim Shoveller

Topic: Complex Stakeholder Situation in the North West 

Date: 30.11.21

Time: 15:00 – 16:00

Tim Shoveller is Managing Director of Network Rail’s North West and Central Region. He started this role in June 2019 after moving from Stagecoach, where he was MD of the rail division.




Specialist Stands

Rail Ops 2021 will also feature various specialist stands hosted by various CIRO partners. These booths will offer the opportunity to talk to industry experts from different areas of rail, including:

  • 21st Century Ops Portfolio
  • Learn about Systems Thinking with CIRO
  • Careers Corner
  • Tools and Tech for Learning
  • Stranded Passenger Project
  • Connected Leaders Programme
  • Rail Academy
  • Explore Performance Improvement Management Systems (PIMS)
  • CIRO Membership
  • CIRO Academic
  • CIRO Apprenticeships


Register Today

Registration for the event is quick and simple, through our dedicated online registration portal Alternatively, you can visit for more information about this and other CIRO events.

Rail Ops 2021 is open to all Rail Professionals and registration will be open until the opening of the event. However, some content at the event may be restricted to members only. So, to ensure you maximise your visit and get the best experience, consider joining CIRO as a member by visiting

If you are employed by one of the CIRO Corporate Members, then there are no membership fees to pay. Be sure to check our list of corporate members during the sign-up process.


Planning your visit

Visitors will be able to pre-plan their event using a handy planning guide which contains a knowledge self-assessment tool and maps speaker content to the 13 sections of the CIRO Professional Operators Development (POD) framework. This allows attendees to get the most out of the conference by identifying their own knowledge gaps and choosing which topics would be most useful to them. This guide will be available from the event portal during the conference, or to download ahead of the event from