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Leadership team

Maria Machancoses


Maria has been instrumental in the success and development of Midlands Connect since helping to set up the partnership in 2014. Maria has also worked as Director of the Midlands Engine and managed the West Midlands Integrated Transport Authority’s input into the HS2 Hybrid Bill.

Paul Butters

External Affairs

Paul leads the external affairs team at Midlands Connect, having spent a number of years working for business group the CBI and as a strategic advisor and press officer for the Liberal Democrats.

Andrew Pritchard

Strategic Advisor

Alongside his role as Director of Policy and Infrastructure at East Midlands Councils, Andrew provides strategic advice on Midlands Connect’s policy direction and approach to our long term role as a Sub-national Transport Body.

Rachel Martin

Business Operations

Rachel manages and implements Midlands Connect's corporate, strategic and operational plans.  Her team provides assurance to the partnership and the Department for Transport (DfT) that our Governance and Programme are both efficient and effective. 

Karen Heppenstall

Integrated Transport

Karen leads Midlands Connect’s Integrated Transport Team, which manages a portfolio of projects, bringing together rail, road, and bus programmes. She joined Midlands Connect in 2021 with an extensive background in transport project management.

Bharat Pathania

New Technologies

Bharat heads up Midlands Connect’s New Technologies Team. The team manages our electric vehicle infrastructure programme and is working on a smart ticketing solution for bus and tram journeys across the Midlands. The team works hard to make sure transport is compatible with constantly changing technologies.

Richard Bradley


Richard heads up Midlands Connect’s Strategy Team. With a broad background in most aspects of transport planning and engineering, the last few years has been a period of re-defining the role of transport planning to the more holistic planning of infrastructure with technology, digital and alternative fuels.