OK - I was 10 years out about 1982-2007. Sorry, and I was not trying to be a S-A...
However, there are simply too many posts being put on without any cross-reference to facts or any simple research being done.
Concerning the need for the CEO to have some basic rail operating knowledge, just think back to some of those that have occupied that role.
The point I was trying to make is sadly, so many large organisations "import" so called experts, who come in, stuff things up and then get a huge golden handshake, when they leave.
Two examples that come to mind are Bob Joss, who took Westpac to the edge in the 1980s and more recently, the head of AMP (whose name escapes me). And just look at how the cost of NRMA membership has gone through the roof, because of the collective egos of the previous Board of Directors.
There are parallels here, as the organization suffers, staff morale plummets and shareholders see the value of their equity decline.
I recall at the time that Alan Reiher's appointment in March 1976 was not supported by the ALP, which won the subsequent State Election. Alan Reiher took up his appointment 11 days before the election. From memory, he was Secretary of the Department of Housing and Construction (see below).
As opposed to 2005 when John Brew was "sacked" by Brian Langton, after Labor regained office, Alan Reiher remained in his job until October 1980, when the PTC was split up and the State Rail Authority (SRA) created.
And yes, David Hill, who met Neville Wran, while the latter was campaigning for a by-election, did have brains, common sense, and some vision. He also had a significant parting in writing Labor's 1976 transport policy, which played a key role in delivering Neville Wran the five seats (including key commuter seats of Blue Mountains and Hurstville that Labor had lost in 1965 and Gosford) that he needed to win government. “Call me David” was appointed an Associate Commissioner after the 1978 State Election and two years later became the first Chief Executive of the SRA, a position he held for six years, when he took over as Chairman of the ABC.
Finally, as you have both rightly pointed out, the 1975 timetable was a good idea in theory, but it didn't work because of delays to delivery of rolling stock and insufficient trains that could operate to the faster running times.
Of interest, the following is an extract on a biography of Alan Reiher
:In 1963 he moved to New South Wales as Director of Works, supervising a large staff and being responsible for annual expenditures of £40 million.
In 1965 he returned to the Commonwealth service, based in Melbourne, where he was successively First Assistant Director-General Management Services (1965-1966), Deputy Director-General (Australia) (1966-1967) and Director-General Australia (1967-1973) (of the Commonwealth Department of Works - Sir Nigel), heading a staff of 14,000 people expending $330 million annually. His upward path continued when he was appointed as Secretary of the Department of Housing and Construction and Director of Works, and then for the years 1975-1976 Director-General of the Department of Construction.
In 1976 Reiher returned to the NSW Government service as Chief Commissioner of Public Transport, heading a department of 50,000 employees with annual budget $1000 million, roughly a fifth of which was invested in capital works. Under his leadership there was substantial improvement in operating performance (earning him the Australian Institute of Production Engineers’ James N. Kirby Memorial Medal), and declining patronage was reversed. New approaches such as leverage leasing and program and project management, especially for major projects such as the XPT and the Eastern Suburbs Railway were introduced before Reiher was ‘head hunted’ in 1980 to become Chairman of the Victorian Railways Board.
Alan Reiher died on 3 August 2003. So while, he had no actual rail experience, he was a civil engineer, who had headed up large government enterprises, with significant capital works budgets.
Many previous Railway Commissioners (both here in NSW and interstate, as well as Mr Keith Smith, a retired Commonwealth Railways Commissioner) had engineering backgrounds. Four of the nine Branches in the NSWR prior to 1972, were engineering undertakings.