Go Ahead Group, which owns Thames Trains, has hired strategic
communications consultancy First and 42nd to provide it with crisis
communications advice in the wake of last week’s Paddington rail
First and 42nd risk management director Mike Seymour was brought into
the account last week, alongside Go Ahead’s retained public affairs
agency, Consolidated Communications.
Go Ahead is keen to assist the Government’s inquiry into the rail crash,
which is being headed by Lord Cullen and is likely to determine the
future of rail safety in the UK.
Aside from communicating this message, the company has also briefed
Seymour and Consolidated director James Boyd to open channels of
communication with key political audiences in the constituencies served
by the London to Bedwyn Thames train as well as opposition transport
Seymour’s 12 years handling crisis PR include advising construction
company Bechtel during the Piper Alpha oil rig explosion in 1988 and
helping Heineken manage a world recall of its products four years ago.
The follow-up inquiry to Piper Alpha was also headed by Cullen and
redefined offshore safety in the North Sea. Seymour and Boyd both report
to Go Ahead executive director Chris Moyes.
Boyd said: ’Thames Trains is fully committed to finding the true cause
of the disaster and being able to identify the best ways of preventing
similar accidents in the future.’
Meanwhile, First Group, which owns First Great Western - the company
operating the London-bound train that collided with the Thames train, is
using its retained financial agency, Brunswick, to handle its crisis
media relations. The agency also handles PR for Railtrack.
While Great Western and Thames Trains have largely escaped media
attention, Railtrack has borne the media brunt of what has been billed
the worst train crash in 50 years.