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Michael Schabas

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1981 Masters City and Regional Planning (Transportation), Distinguished Achievement, Recipient of CMHC Scholarship, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University

1979 Bachelor of Architecture, University of Toronto


2008-current Partner Director, FCP Ltd, UK

1996-2008 Director, GB Railways plc/FirstGroup plc, UK

1992-current Independent consultant

1988-1992 Vice-President, Transport, Olympia & York Canary Wharf Developments Ltd, London

1986-1988 Chief, Rapid Transit Planning, City and County of Honolulu

1983-1986 Manager, International Projects, Urban Transportation Development Corporation, Toronto

1981-1983 Design Coordinator, Vancouver Skytrain Project

1980 Summer Intern, US Dept of Transportation, Washington DC

1974-1979 Summer work at architecture firms, Toronto


2008-current FCP Ltd, UK

2007-2008 FirstGroup Rhein Neckar GmbH, Germany

2006-2009 FirstGroup European Holdings Limited, UK

2005-2006 AS Ofotbanen, Norway

2003-2010 Superlink Limited, UK

2003-2014 Rebecca Ezra Ltd, UK

1996-2008 GB Railfreight Ltd, UK

1999-2009 Hull Trains Company Limited, UK

1997-1999 Great Southern Railway Limited, Australia

1996-2003 GB Railways Group Plc, UK


2010-current Member Transportation Research Board, US National Academy of Sciences, Intercity Passenger Rail Standing Committee

1976-1979 Member and 1977 Chairman City of Toronto Council Cycling Committee





English, intermediate French, basic German and Mandarin


+44 7973 241 214

With a 35 year career experience in the planning, development and management of passenger and freight railways and urban transport systems, Michael Schabas has been involved as an advisor, director or investor. He has particular expertise in developing innovative business strategies for practical solutions, preparing and reviewing traffic forecasts, business plans and feasibility studies as well as building core teams for complex projects. He provides a detailed understanding of project finance and Private-Public-Partnerships (PPPs), concessions, franchises, and the technical, economic and political opportunities and constraints within which rail and urban transit systems must operate.

He has worked in more than 20 countries for private companies, government agencies, and for multilateral development agencies including the World Bank, ADB and EBRD.

He has hands-on operating experience and has served on the boards of companies delivering commuter, intercity and long-distance passenger and freight rail services as well as urban buses in the UK, Germany, Norway, Estonia, Sweden, Nigeria and Australia. He has led and written bids, and carried out acquisition due diligence. He has been a director of companies making the transition from public to private ownership, and has experience initiating and implementing culture change.

Since 2014, Michael has led an FCP team retained by Metrolinx, the regional transit agency in Ontario, to prepare the Business Case for upgrading Toronto’s 450km commuter rail system into electrified Regional Express Rail. The work has confirmed that the project can be implemented in 10 years, with very attractive benefit:cost ratios and with most costs recovered from fares and operating savings. The project, with capital cost of about $15n, has now received government support.

Other projects have included the launch with local and international investors of a new German intercity passenger train business and as leader on the technical and commercial teams supporting a bid for 25 year PPP to operate two new metro lines in Lagos, Nigeria. Michael led a team bidding to acquire concessions to operate the Melbourne, Australia light rail and commuter rail networks, in conjunction with Deutsche Bank and Siemens.

In 1995, Michael founded GB Railways plc, which operated Anglia Railways, an intercity passenger operator from 1997 to 2003. He also launched GB Railfreight and Hull Trains, Britain’s first “open access” train company. GB Railways raised more than £100m of private risk capital for rolling stock, and won numerous awards for passenger service excellence and innovation. GB Railways was acquired by FirstGroup Plc in 2003. Michael remained a board member of both GB Railfreight and Hull Trains until 2007.

Michael Schabas has played key roles in planning, design and implementation of major rail projects including: the Jubilee Line Extension, Docklands Light Rail system which serves the massive Canary Wharf development; West Coast Main Line modernisation; Tyne & Wear Metro, Croydon Light Rail, Channel Tunnel Rail Link (HS1); and Vancouver Skytrain. From 1986-1988, he was Chief Planner for the Honolulu Light Rail system. He has advised the UK and Canadian Governments, the World Bank, European Investment Bank, and Asian Development Bank.

Michael Schabas has a Masters in Transport Planning from the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.

He has published extensively on transit planning and finance.



California High Speed Rail 2016-current  Retained by the California High Speed Rail Authority as part of a team led by PFAL to review all project aspects to confirm that train service will be able to operate without ongoing subsidies, as required by the Proposition 1A enabling legislations.

Toronto Regional Express Rail, 2014-current  Retained by the Ontario Ministry of Transportation and then Metrolinx, the Toronto regional transportation authority, leading an FCP team developing the full Business Case for the $15 billion Regional Express Rail programme.

Ontario GO FAST Toronto - Kitchener - London High Speed Rail, 2014–current  Retained by the Ontario Ministry of Transportation to prepare a pre-feasibility study of a proposed 200km HSR line. Led the team that identified a viable scheme costing $2.5bn, with a strong financial and economic business case. The Provincial Government has now backed the project with a full feasibility study to follow.

Toronto “Big Move” Regional Transport Plan, 2013  Retained by Neptis, an independent foundation, to review the effectiveness of this $36 billion program, and to identify possible improvements. Full report available at Subsequently retained by Metrolinx, the Toronto regional transportation authority, to develop the full Business Case leading to implementation of Regional Express Rail, as part of a larger FCP team.

Sydney Northwest Metro 2013  Retained by the Authority to review the proposed payment mechanism for this multi-billion dollar automated metro being developed under a PPP.

VR Finnish Railways 2013  Advising Finnish Railways on strategies for responding to proposals to franchise the Helsinki commuter rail services.

Transportation Research Board 2013  Advising the US government-sponsored organisation on new sources of revenue for transport investments.

Canary Wharf Group, 2012 Retained to develop proposals to extend Crossrail to serve Stansted Airport.

VIA Rail Canada 2012  Advised on technical and commercial strategies for improving passenger services in the Montréal – Ottawa – Toronto corridor, and structures for introducing private investment.

Nottingham Light Rail Transit, 2010: Advised shortlisted concession bidder.

European Rail Freight, 2010: Financial and operational due diligence for investment of €200m in a central European rail freight company by a multi-lateral lender.

US High Speed Rail, 2010: Advised US Japan High Speed Rail Corporation on development of a high-speed railway in Texas. Work included independent development and review of traffic, revenue and operating cost forecasts.

Calabar-Maiduguri Railway, 2010: Prepared a pre-feasibility study for a 1200km $3bn mixed-traffic railway linking Calabar to northeastern Nigeria, for five state governments.

Rio Sao-Paulo High Speed Railway, 2009–2010: Assisted the World Bank in review of plans and PPP structure for a $25bn high speed railway linking Rio and Sao-Paulo.

Tyne & Wear Metro Concession, 2009: Advised Metro Management in their bid to retain operational responsibility for the Metro system serving greater Newcastle.

Lagos Mass Transit Rail System, 2009–2014: Provided commercial and technical leadership to Eko Rail, awarded a 25-year concession to finance, equip and operate a new Metro system.

Hamburg-Köln Express, 2008–current: Founder investor of Germany’s first “open access” intercity rail operator. Services commenced July 2012. 

China Railways, 2009: Working with China Academy of Railway Sciences to study the potential of market-based pricing on China Railways, in a World Bank funded technical assistance project that included a comprehensive review of rail retailing in Europe.

China Urban Rail Finance, 2008: Advised the World Bank on alternative financing methods for new metro systems in China.

Copenhagen Commuter Rail, 2007: Negotiated a joint venture between FirstGroup Plc and Danish State Railways, which bid successfully for rail concessions serving the Copenhagen-Malmo (Oresund) route via Kastrup airport.

Rail4Chem, 2007: Led FirstGroup Plc team in a bid to acquire Rail4Chem, one of the largest independent rail freight companies in Europe.

MAV Cargo, 2007: Advised RDC/Macquarie bid to acquire the Hungarian state-owned rail freight company. 

CTL Logistics, 2006: Advised Macquarie Bank and RDC consortium bidding for the largest private rail freight operator in Poland.

Commission for Integrated Transport, 2006: Completed a study for the UK Government transport think-tank on macroeconomic drivers of bus and rail costs. 

FirstGroup Deutschland GmbH, 2005–2006: After a survey of opportunities in the German market, led negotiations and acquisition due-diligence for purchase of a municipal bus company in Speyer, Rheinland-Pfalz. Subsequently led a successful bid to operate tendered routes to Frankfurt Airport.

AS Ofotbanen, 2004 Led a group of investors who acquired an interest in an independent passenger and freight rail operator in Norway and Sweden.

Cargo Slovakia, 2004: Led FirstGroup Plc bid to acquire Slovakian state rail freight business. Although shortlisted, FirstGroup decided not to pursue the competition.

Transport for London, 2004: Advised on possible use of Oyster Smartcards as an electronic purse.

Edinburgh Airport Rail Link, 2004: Member of project Peer Review panel.

Vancouver Skytrain Richmond Airport Line, 2003–2004: “Red Team” member reviewing a bid for $1bn PPP concession project.

Sage Realty, 2003–2006: Advised a major office developer in negotiations with the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority to mitigate impacts of the Grand Central–East Side Access project.

Uzbekistan Railways, 2002: For the Asian Development Bank studied the potential for development of rail tourism on Uzbekistan Railways.

WestRail Freight, 2002: Responsible for revenue forecasting, track charging and economic regulation issues in a $500m bid by a consortium including Babcock & Brown, Walter Construct-ion and GB Railways to acquire the Western Australia Government railways.

SuperCrossrail 2001: Led a joint GB Railways / Transport for London team evaluating the potential to extend Crossrail to Stansted and other regional destinations.

Hull Trains, 1999–2008: Led development of Britain’s first open-access intercity train company. Hull now runs seven services daily between London and Hull, using 200km/h diesel multiple unit trains, without any Government support.

Sydney-Canberra High Speed Rail, 1999: Led GB Railway team bidding with Siemens, Bilfinger Berger, and Babcock & Brown, for a concession to develop this $2 billion project.

Melbourne Australia Trains (Metro) and Trams (Light Rail) 1999: Technical lead for the GB Railways bid (with Siemens, Deutsche Bank, and Bilfinger Berger) for five rail concessions in Victoria, Australia. GB Railways was shortlisted for all five franchises, but lost to more optimistic competitors. In all cases the winning bids proved undeliverable and were renegotiated within 3 years. 

GB Railfreight, 1999–2008: Founded Britain’s third largest rail freight operator, now with 300 staff and 60 locomotives, serving a range of customers.

Malawi Railways, 1999: Led GB Railways bid to acquire the Malawi Railways system. GBR made the best bid but was unable to agree terms to close the transaction.

Zimbabwe Railways, 1999: Led GB Railways/Brown & Root bid to acquire the Zimbabwe Railways infrastructure. After shortlisting, the process was terminated as the local political situation deteriorated.

Edelaraudtee, 1998: Led initial due diligence for GB Railways acquisition of an interest in AS Edelaraudtee, a passenger and freight railway in Estonia and the first fully privatised railway in the former Soviet Union.

Transport Canada, 1998: Advised on options for restructuring, franchising or privatisation of VIA Rail.

Anglia Railways, 1997–2003: Developed key strategies which won the 7-year franchise to operate electric 160km/h InterCity trains and connecting local services in eastern England. Anglia was top rated by the UK Government, achieving 50% passenger and revenue growth over 7 years, and was twice named “Train Operator of the Year.”

Great Southern Railway, 1997–1999: Strategic leadership to GB Railways consortium that acquired the Indian Pacific, Ghan and Overland long distance sleeper trains. By expanding and extending services, turned the loss-making state enterprise into a profitable business.

Queensland Rail, 1997: Advised on structuring public-private partnerships.

Bristol Light Rail Project, 1996: Review for Bristol City Council of light rail and funding.

Railtrack Plc, 1996: Study of depot options for South London.

British Telecom, 1996: Led a seminar on opportunities relating to rail privatisation.

Class 312 Train Rebuilding, 1996: Evaluated alternatives for rebuilding these trains with sliding doors and air conditioning.

GB Railways Group Plc, 1995–2003: Founder director, assembled a team floated the company on the London Stock Exchange (AIM). GB Railways operated railways in the UK, Australia and Estonia. It was acquired by FirstGroup Plc in 2003. GB Railways expanded services while reducing subsidy, and invested over £200m in new rolling stock, entirely financed with private capital.

London Airports Surface Access Study, 1995–1996: Lead member of a team which carried out a major study to improve road and rail access to London’s airports for the UK Department of Transport.

Crossrail, 1994: Lead member of a team reviewing the project for the UK Department of Transport. The Select Committee cited the report as instrumental in their decision to reject the scheme.

West Coast Main Line Modernisation, 1994–1995: Founded WCML DevCo., a consortium including Jacobs, Babcock & Brown, Booz Allen and Brown & Root which carried out a major study to define the upgrading of the London-Glasgow main line.

AMEC Plc, 1994–1997: Retained by this major contractor to advise on bids for projects including DLR Lewisham Extension and Croydon Tramlink.

BAA Plc, 1992: Review of revenue forecasts for the Heathrow Express railway, including identification of opportunities for higher fares with yield management.

London Underground Ltd, 1992: Reviewed options for Morden Depot

Channel Tunnel Rail Link (now High Speed 1), 1991–1996: Retained by Newham Council and the London Docklands Development Corporation. Subsequently retained for four years as Special Adviser to Union Railways, a subsidiary of British Railways established to promote the £5 bn project. Conceived and developed the proposal to use the St Pancras as the London terminal, now built.

Docklands Light Railway, 1988–1997: As Vice President Transport for the Canary Wharf developers, led discussions to obtain value for their £67 million contribution to the Bank Extension. Persuaded the UK Government to transfer control of the railway from London Transport to the Docklands Development Corporation, and to install CBTC moving block signalling. Then led the formation of the Brown & Root/Booz Allen Joint Venture that won the £100m System Prime Contract, re-engineering the railway for higher capacity and reliability.

Jubilee Line Extension, 1988–1992: As Vice President, Transport for the Canary Wharf developers, conceived and promoted the £3.5bn Jubilee Line Extension. Managed a team that prepared the initial Private Bill, worked with consultants appointed to complete the East London Rail Study, and developed the business case that persuaded Government to fund the scheme. Later advised the European Investment Bank on project funding.

Honolulu Rapid Transit, 1986–1988: As Chief of Rapid Transit Planning for the City & County of Honolulu, was responsible for planning of a 40km light rail rapid transit system. While a draft Environmental Statement was prepared, the project became mired in local politics. This was the second attempt to launch the project. After three further attempts, construction finally commenced in 2012.

Urban Transportation Development Corporation, 1983–1986: As Manager of Strategic Marketing, promoted UTDC’s technology in Bangkok, Taipei, Alexandria, Athens and Ankara, identifying local partners and assessing the likelihood of the projects proceeding. UTDC was subsequently awarded contracts for metro systems in Bangkok and Ankara.

Vancouver Skytrain, 1981–1983: As Design Coordinator for the system turnkey contractor, was responsible for working with the client and other stakeholders to finalise the route and detailed design of five sections of a 22km $1bn elevated automated light rapid transit system. Developed the innovative track layout at Stadium Station, which allowed higher capacity operation, and justified it using cost-benefit analysis. Also developed an alternative route through New Westminster, with reduced cost and visual impacts.

Toronto North-South Bicycle Lanes, 1976–1979 As a member and Chairman (1978) of the City Cycling Committee, led efforts to persuade City of Toronto Council to introduce the city’s first exclusive bicycle lanes. Secured funding and also enabling legislation from the Provincial Government.



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