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Michael Schabas


Michael Schabas has over 30 years experience planning, developing and operating all types of railways. With career work in over 20 countries as an advisor, director or investor, he has a reputation for developing innovative business strategies, preparing and reviewing traffic forecasts, business plans and feasibility studies, and building teams for complex projects. He has detailed understanding of the technical, economic and political opportunities and constraints within which rail and urban transit systems must operate.

Michael Schabas has extensive knowledge of project finance, contract structures such as Public-Private-Partnerships (PPP), concessions and franchises. 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 and Australia. He has led and written bids, and carried out acquisition due diligence. He is Senior Partner at FCP, an international rail consultancy based in London, UK.

Current activities include leading the development of a $15 billion regional express rail system for the Greater Toronto region and advising the California High Speed Rail Authority on operating costs and revenues for their system. Other recent work includes: advising on development of a new metro system in a Lagos under a 25 year concession agreement; working with China Academy of Railway Sciences to advise China Railways on implementation of market pricing; and development of Hamburg-Köln Express, a new inter-city passenger rail operator.

In 1996, Michael Schabas founded GB Railways (GBR Annual Report 2002.pdf) which operated Anglia Railways and launched GB Railfreight and Hull Trains. Anglia won numerous awards for excellence, and grew traffic by 50% over seven years. He also led GB Railways’ international acquisitions in Estonia and Australia. GB Railways was floated on the London AIM Market. In 2003, GB Railways was acquired by FirstGroup Plc. In 2005, he led the acquisition of a bus company operating in Rhein-Neckar, Germany for FirstGroup.

In Australia, Michael Schabas developed the business strategy for Great Southern Railway which successfully acquired the iconic Ghan and the Indian Pacific long distance trains. GSR continues to operate profitably, without subsidy.

As Vice-President for Transport at Olympia & York, developers of Canary Wharf, Michael Schabas conceived and promoted the Jubilee Line Extension which was critical to longterm success of the £15bn Docklands regeneration project. He also instigated the resignalling and re-engineering of the Docklands Light Railway, and led the winning consortium on the £70m works contract.

Michael Schabas advised several East London local governments on the Channel Tunnel Rail Link. He conceived and developed the case for St Pancras as the terminal for the £6bn project, a solution that was adopted and built. From 1991 to 1996, he was retained by British Rail as strategy advisor for the project.

Michael Schabas has a Masters Degree with Distinguished Achievement from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and a Bachelor of Architecture Degree from the University of Toronto. He is the author of The Railway Metropolis – How Planners Politicians and Developers Shaped Modern London, published by ICE Press in 2016.


An expert in the development and management of railways and urban transport systems.