From the triumph of the transport system’s performance during the Olympic and Paralympic Games to cancellation of the West Coast franchise competition, last year was as action packed as any for the passenger transport sector. But who will be making the headlines in the next 12 months? Working with Veredus, the executive search, selection and interim management specialists, our team of experts has nominated 25 people to watch in 2013



1. Mike Cooper
Deputy Chief Executive, Arriva

Mike Cooper is no longer the industry’s new boy. After joining Arriva from EasyJet in 2005, he led the group’s UK bus division. The 5,900-vehicle business is operationally competent but lacks the commercial flair of some of its peers. But Cooper must have impressed Arriva’s owners, Deutsche Bahn, because last Autumn he was promoted to the new position of deputy group chief executive, putting him in pole position to take over from chief executive David Martin, who has headed the group since April 2006.

Tim O’Toole
Chief Executive, FirstGroup

Does Tim O’Toole have the toughest job in UK passenger transport? The American has made huge efforts to turn FirstGroup around since taking charge of the group two years ago, but there are many hazards on the road ahead. Returns from the US and UK bus businesses have been shrinking, so the plan was to win a few UK rail franchises. However, O’Toole’s elation at being named preferred bidder for the InterCity West Coast franchise was wiped out when the competition was cancelled and the refranchising programme was put on hold. O’Toole will be urging the Department for Transport to get its house in order quickly, so that he has a chance of sorting out his own.

3. Martin Griffiths
Chief Executive, Stagecoach Group

After 12 years as Sir Brian Souter’s right-hand-man, Martin Griffiths will take over the reins at Stagecoach in May. There is every indication that he has been imbued with the Stagecoach ethos. But it will be interesting to see whether he is simply a continuity man, or if he has new ideas for maintaining Stagecoach’s market leading position. If so, how will they be received by Souter who, despite being Stagecoach’s major shareholder, will become chairman in defiance of usual corporate governance.

4. David Brown
Chief Executive, Go Ahead Group

David Brown faces a number of challenges in 2013. These include the sensitivities around his centralisation of Go Ahead’s bus businesses and pressure from shareholders to extract more than £100m of profits from these operations every year. This comes at a time when Brown has to find replacements for long serving bus bosses Roger French (Brighton & Hove) and Alan Eatwell (Metrobus), who both retire this year. He also faces the nasty prospect of retendering starting for Go Ahead’s two major rail franchises.

5. François-Xavier Perin
Chief Executive, RATP Dev

Last month saw the return of François-Xavier Perin to an executive role in the transport sector after a three-year absence. From 1997 to 2009 he worked for Transdev, but he left following the French group’s merger with Veolia. Having been responsible for Transdev’s operations in the UK, FXP knows the market well. His appointment as chief executive of RATP Dev is a coup for the Paris-based passenger transport group, which inherited UK bus companies London United and Bournemouth as part of the Transdev/Veolia merger.



6. Norman Baker MP
Parliamentary Under Secretary, Department for TransportTransport

Is Norman Baker the most enthusiastic transport minister ever? Unlike many of his predecessors, he seems to genuinely care about his brief. Some might wish that he was less fervent about doing what he believes to be the right thing, such as publishing “right time” punctuality data for trains, but he has also won many admirers. If he is still in his post in May, he will begin his fourth year as parliamentary under secretary at the Department for Transport – how many of his predecessors achieved that?

7. Lilian Greenwood MP
Shadow Minister of Transport

Maria Eagle is the Labour party’s lead spokesperson on transport, but it is her deputy, Lilian Greenwood, that the industry thinks it can work with. Eagle, a Merseyside MP from the ‘Old Labour’ mould, has cast bus and train operators as villains. Greenwood has used more constructive language and has this month been appointed as Labour’s voice on rail. Expect to see much more of her in a year which will see rail fares, franchising and HS2 dominating the transport agenda, and with Labour beginning to set out its own alternative plans for the industry.

8. Patrick McLoughlin MP
Secretary of State, Department for Transport

In his four months in post, the former chief whip has shown authority and calm in handling the fall out from the West Coast franchise chaos. Over the next few months he will need to show similar competence in restarting the franchising process. Transport strategy, departmental reform, continued progression of HS2 and rail devolution, the Thameslink rolling stock deal and potentially a quality contract ruling will also be in the 2013 in tray. He may need to show he is more than a safe pair of hands.

9. Iain Gray MSP
Member of the Scottish Parliament for East Lothian

Iain Gray, MSP for the East Lothian,  started this year with a call for bus franchising in Scotland. There’s nothing unusual about a politician doing that, but Gray is a heavyweight who must be taken seriously.  After serving as a special advisor to Alistair Darling, when he was the UK government’s Scottish secretary, he led Scottish Labour in the Scottish Parliament between 2008 and 2011. He resigned following his party’s election defeat, but Labour could be on its way back to power, and so could Gray.

10. Boris Johnson
Mayor of London

Now into his second term as London’s mayor, Boris Johnson doesn’t really have to worry about preparing the ground for a third mayoral victory as he’s already ruled himself out of the 2016 election. However, there’s still plenty to do, indeed lobbying government for additional funding for more Tube upgrades has already begun and the New Bus for London will hit the capital’s streets in increasing numbers this year. However, one thorn in his side could be the cross-Thames cable car scheme where patronage continues to disappoint.



11. Tim Shoveller
Managing Director, South West Trains

As MD of the rail industry’s rail first ‘deep alliance’ between a TOC and Network Rail, Shoveller is the standard bearer for implementing new ways of improving efficiency and performance. Early signs suggest that the agreement has created a new culture of co-operation with some innovative, but relatively small scale, methods to reduce costs and improve customer service. But the alliance must show that it can deliver bigger prizes such as finding a capacity solution for Waterloo and asset renewals.

12. Tony Collins
Chief Executive, Virgin Trains

Tony Collins had no doubt expected to be out of a job when FirstGroup was awarded the new West Coast contract by the DfT, but is now back in the hot seat for the next two years. His company’s performance will be under close scrutiny given the incendiary rhetoric Virgin put out in its successful bid to get the franchise award to First overturned. Improved station facilities, on board service and operational performance have been promised along with “great ideas”. Fences will no doubt have to be mended with DfT too. Must deliver.

13. Nigel Ash
Managing Director, Network Rail Consulting

It is 18 months since Network Rail announced plans to bid for international consultancy projects. Nigel Ash, former chief executive of SNCF/RATP-owned consultancy MVA, has strong credentials to make it work. Ash has been busy exhibiting at international trade fairs and discussing alliances with established multi-national consultancies. This has to be the year when he starts to bring in some business. Network Rail may be about to enter a new phase in its development.

14. Anna Walker
Chair, Office of Rail Regulation

Anna Walker and her chief executive Richard Price will have their work cut out this year finalising proposals for the five-yearly Periodic Review that will go well beyond validating the industry’s spending plans. They have stated that the rail industry is a distorted, over-regulated market with an unhealthy commercial structure and insufficient focus on lowering costs and improving service. Can their reforms help bring about a truly commercially-driven industry, or are they living an economist’s fantasy?

15. Ruud Haket
Managing Director, Greater Anglia

Greater Anglia was Abellio’s breakthrough. It is the first UK franchise the international arm of the Dutch railways has won with a solo bid, and is comfortably its largest business. The short 2.5-year contract means the pressure is on Haket to come good. So far he has. Greater Anglia achieved record punctuality in its first year and put in a solid Olympic service. Now Haket has to maintain progress, while assisting with CrossRail preparations and lining up to win the prize Abellio really needs – the new 15-year Greater Anglia franchise.



16. Jeroen Weimar
Chief Operating Officer UK Bus, FirstGroup

Jeroen Weimar was managing director of Serco’s UK transport business but he left in June last year to join Giles Fearnley’s mission to salvage FirstGroup’s stricken UK bus business. With operations in almost every region of the country, and a centralised culture, it was considered necessary to give Fearnley a wing man, and Weimar was seen to possess the required programme and project management skills. And if Fearnley decides to move on, Weimar looks the most likely successor.

17. Cynthia Ogbonna
Managing Director, Cardiff Bus

David Brown stepped down as managing director of Cardiff Bus last summer after the company was found to have indulged in anti-competitive behaviour against local independent 2Travel. The company’s local authority owners replaced him with Cynthia Ogbonna, the first female MD in the firm’s 110-year history. Ogbonna has been with Cardiff Bus since 2004 in the role of finance and administration director. Taking up her new post, she said her vision is to create an operation “that will rival the best in the UK” – how will she achieve that?

18. Robert Montgomery
Deputy Managing Director, Stagecoach UK Bus

On May 1, 2013, Les Warneford will step down as managing director of Stagecoach’s UK bus business. His successor is Robert Montgomery, a highly competent busman who has played a key role in the expansion of the group’s Megabus express coach network. He inherits a strong team and a new senior team that includes rising stars Liz Esnouf and Rob Andrew. Interestingly, Montgomery used to work for FirstGroup. Their loss was Stagecoach’s gain!

19. Colin Robertson
Chief Executive, Alexander Dennis

Under the leadership of Colin Robertson, the UK’s largest bus builder, Alexander Dennis is not just surviving – it’s thriving. Latest figures show that the Falkirk-based firm retained its UK market leadership in 2012 with a 38% share, up slightly on 2011, and exports are growing fast. It’s a success story for UK manufacturing that deserves national media exposure. Wrightbus and Optare are also important, of course, but the other person to watch in this sector is who replaces Steve Dewhurst at Volvo Bus UK.

20. Mark Fowles
Managing Director, Nottingham City Transport

In 2011, Mark Fowles and his team at Nottingham City Transport were wounded by the loss of its contract to operate their home city’s tram system, so it was a welcome boost to the morale when the company was named ‘bus operator the year’ at the 2012 UK Bus Awards. This year will see the local authority-owned company host the Album Conference, the annual meeting of the Association of Local Bus Company Managers. Another name to watch is the company’s marketing and communications director, Nicola Tidy.



21. Geoff Inskip
Chief Executive, Centro-WMITA

Geoff Inskip has shown himself to be an adept negotiator, winning new funds for development of Midland Metro and leading the case for devolution of rail powers as chair of PTEG. In 2013, he will make the case for further Metro enhancements while there is momentum and seeking to place Centro as a flagship for local authority control of rail services. Success will be important to his personal profile. He is thought to harbour ambitions to succeed Peter Hendy as London’s transport commissioner.

22. Clare Moriarty
Director General Rail, Department for Transport

One of the shortcomings exposed by the collapse of the flawed West Coast franchise competition was there was no single head of rail at the Department for Transport. This has now been addressed with the appointment of Clare Moriarty, the former head of the DfT’s corporate group, as the director general for rail. Moriarty must resume the rail franchising programme as quickly as possible. Given that nobody seemed to have a grasp of the numbers in the West Coast competition, it may be comforting that she studied Maths at Oxford!

23. Len Porter
Chief Executive, Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB)

RSSB has been earmarked for a key role in the development of the railway. As custodian of the industry’s innovation fund and new 30-year Rail Technical Strategy, it is drawing together long term, cross-industry initiatives designed to eliminate inefficiency, ensure whole system thinking and introduce new structures which enable technology to be introduced effectively. Porter is held in high regard, but is aware that work is required to reform RSSB’s low profile so it can help lead this ambitious agenda.

24. Alison Munro
Chief Executive, High Speed Two

This year will be another big one for High Speed 2, with the Hybrid Bill for Phase 1 due to be submitted to parliament and consultation prepared for Phase 2. There will be no pleasing everyone no matter what decision is eventually taken on the detail of the Phase 2 routes from Birmingham to Manchester and Leeds. Munro and her team must learn from mistakes during public consultation for the London-Birmingham phase, to create a more favourable impression for the billions being spent.

25. Sir Peter Hendy
Commissioner, Transport for London

When has Sir Peter Hendy not been ‘one to watch’? Some believe that he might seek a new challenge having now served more than a decade at London’s transport co-ordinating body. But Hendy will be a very young 60 this year and its hard to imagine him putting his feet up at home. Will the House of Lords beckon? Or maybe he will replace his former colleague Tim O’Toole at FirstGroup, take the helm of Network Rail or become the new president of UITP. Anything is possible. Either way, still a major player in 2013.



It’s all about the people

By Jerry Gray, Veredus

There can be few sectors as fast-moving, fascinating and diverse as transport, but it’s the people the make the difference – the public servants, the private sector executives and the politicians. This ‘Power List’ of 25 people to watch in 2013 shows what a rich and rounded spectrum of talent there is in the passenger transport sector.

Some of the faces on this list are well known, such as Transport for London commissioner Sir Peter Hendy; others less so. All will play an important part in shaping events in this sector in the year ahead.

This will be the year when High Speed 2 gathers pace, the rail refranchising programme gets back on track and technology progresses further to improve the lives of customers. These challenges require first class professional skills.

At Veredus, we are proud of the role that we play in matching the right people with the right roles – and we know what a difference leaders with determination and vision can make to a sector.

For over 20 years, Veredus has been actively recruiting a wide range of senior professionals – chairs, chief executives and their executive teams, non-executives and interim appointments – for clients spanning the UK and European transport sub-sectors. With our wealth of market knowledge and extensive networks across the sector, our transport team is able to identify and attract some of the leading industry experts to help clients achieve their business objectives.

Our activity in the UK transport sector is spearheaded by our associate, Alex Warner, an experienced transport professional who will be known to readers of Passenger Transport as the author of the ‘Travel Test’ column.

We would like to wish the movers and shakers on this ‘Power List’ the very best for 2013. Transport is all about people, and this sector needs deserves the best.

For further information:
To find out more about Veredus, email or call 0207 932 4239


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