Two train operating companies have announced that they have made changes to their top teams with Elaine Holt and Andy Pitt leaving their posts.
Chairman of the East Coast Main Line Company Limited, Elaine Holt will be leaving her post at the end of the year and Andy Pitt, Managing Director of SouthWest Trains is retiring this Autumn. Their replacements are Michael Holden and Tim Shoveller respectively.
East Coast Trains is a fully owned subsidiary of the Government owned Directly Operated Railways Limited (DOR) and the announcement coincides with the ‘planned completion’ of Elaine Holt’s contract.
DOR manages The Secretary of State’s requirements to provide continuity of rail services should any Franchise cease trading and not be able to complete its full contractual term, as with National Express East Coast four years ago.
It is understood that The DfT wanted to extend Ms. Holt’s contract and failed to reach agreement on terms. Elaine Holt said:
“I shall be sorry to leave both DOR and East Coast. We’ve achieved a huge amount in the last two years and we’re just starting to see the benefits of the Company turnaround.
“The Company still has a number of challenges to overcome – but I’m absolutely convinced we made the right choices and have established a strong new foundation for our successes to be sustainable.
“The franchise extension until the end of 2013 will see this task largely completed – with a business in much better shape than when we started.
“I couldn’t have achieved this level of progress without the very strong support from the DOR Board, Karen Boswell (East Coast’s Managing Director) and the rest of the team at East Coast.
“I’m genuinely regretful of the fact that I won’t now be around to ‘finish the job’.”
The introduction of a new timetable and a new complimentary catering offer in First Class in May 2011, have both been ‘strategically significant and delivered positive results’.
Passenger numbers have increased by 3% in the last year (2010/11), and last month DOR posted an operating profit of £183 million on turnover of more than £645 million for the year ending 31 March 2011.
It has subsequently returned £177 million this year in service payments to the public purse – and East Coast is now one of the ‘best financial performers in the rail industry’.
Michael Holden will become the next Chairman of East Coast with Doug Sutherland becoming Non-Executive Chairman of Directly Operated Railways.
These positions are an interim measure until the Department for Transport decides what to do next. The Franchise has still not been re-let as a private concern and remains a taxpayer owned operation three years after National Express handed it back to The Government.
Tim Shoveller leaves East Midlands Trains (EMT) as MD to take up the same role at SouthWest Trains. David Horne (currently Commercial & Customer Service Director at EMT) takes over at East Midlands Trains in place of Mr. Shoveller.
Both TOCs are operated by the Stagecoach Group.
Vernon Barker moves from Managing Director of First Transpennine Express to Managing Director of First Group’s UK Rail Division. Passenger numbers have almost doubled in 7 years to 24 million while he was MD. FirstGroup is the largest passenger train franchise holder in the UK and also runs First Great Western, First Scotrail and First Capital Connect.