The firms due to take over the West Coast Mainline next month have appointed two managing directors.

FirstGroup and Trenitalia will jointly take over the West Coast Partnership on December 8 from the Virgin Trains and Stagecoach partnership. Phil Whittingham, managing director of Virgin Trains since 2013, will become managing director of the InterCity West Coast business, running passenger rail services. Caroline Donaldson, bid director at FirstGroup, will become managing director of the West Coast Partnership Development to provide design and development services to support the future operation of high-speed rail services.

She will work closely with HS2 LTd and the Department for Transport.

Steve Montgomery, managing director of First Rail, said: “We look forward to operating the West Coast Partnership.

"These appointments demonstrate our determination to deliver a range of improvements for InterCity West Coast passengers during the first phase of the partnership and help deliver the railway of tomorrow. Our aim is to provide exceptional service as standard for our customers.

“Phil and Caroline bring great experience, insight and drive to deliver the significant improvements we’re committed to while also establishing the plans and initiatives which will form the bedrock of future high speed rail services.”

FirstGroup and Trenitalia said the existing senior management team at Virgin Trains will transfer to the new Intercity West Coast business reporting to Phil Whittingham.

They are: Mark Whitehouse, executive finance director; Natasha Grice, executive people director; Sarah Copley, executive commercial director; John Sullivan, executive chief information officer; and Richard Scott, executive corporate affairs director.

Bob Powell, currently interim executive customer experience director at Virgin Trains; and Gus Dunster, interim executive operations director, will also transfer in their current interim roles to the new organisation while Sarah Kendall will join the team in the role of projects director from the First-Trenitalia Mobilisation team.

FirstGroup and Trenitalia have also appointed new people to the West Coast Partnership development team, including Russell Evans, train services director; Joost Noordewier, customer experience and commercial director; Adriano Scapati, rolling stock director and Eileen Abbess, project management office director.

Further appointments to the executive team will be announced in due course.

The West Coast Partnership will operate intercity services between London Euston and the Midlands, North-West England, Scotland and North Wales.

It said it will introduce a new fleet of trains as well as the complete refurbishment of the existing Pendolino fleet, 263 more train services every week by 2022 with new routes added.

It said with immediate effect on December 8, passengers will benefit from compensation available for journeys delayed by 15 minutes or more, compared to 30 minutes today.