Who are the rising stars in UK public transport? Passenger Transport has teamed up with Tracsis Transport Consultancy, the executive search, selection and interim management specialists, to identify 51 dynamic passenger transport professionals to keep an eye on

Alex Warner writes – Our industry continues to adapt to change, and we owe a lot to our talented individuals across the sector. It’s because of this that Passenger Transport decided to team up with Tracsis Transport Consultancy to identify rising stars in the industry and shine a light on their impressive achievements to date.

It has been a mammoth task for our judges. We have had a staggering number of nominations and it’s been a real challenge deciding who should make the list. We have finally selected 51 to make the cut! This is a challenge we face on a daily basis at our Executive Search & Selection department within Tracsis Transport Consultancy, where we work with such an exceptional talent pool across the sector. Our rising stars are united by their contribution to keeping our customers happy and safe, and championing public transport at this crucial time.

I’d like to thank everyone who put forward suggestions and to our fantastic judges (see below) who have given up their time to evaluate and consider the candidates.

We’ve split the feature into four categories, but there’s no ranking, so if your name is featured then you should be very proud. We hope you enjoy hearing about these amazing people as much as we have!




Marta Hilton (pictured)
Marketing and Publicity Manager, Oxford Bus Company

Polish-born Marta joined Oxford Bus Company in 2015, making a big impression with her enthusiasm, commitment, and customer focus. She progressed to a leadership role in 2020 and is helping to attract new people to the bus with Covid-19 recovery campaigns and original initiatives like the launch of an Oxford Ghost Tour.

Stevie Chambers
Commercial Projects Manager, Lothian Buses

Stevie is part of a small team responsible for ticketing and systems at Lothian Buses. He implemented Scotland’s first Model 2 Contactless Payments scheme, co-developed and implemented integrated ticketing for Transport for Edinburgh and consistently pushes the boundaries to deliver improvements in customer journeys.

Dan Champion
Head of Air Quality, Environment & Technology Sponsorship, Transport for London

Dan has risen through the ranks at Transport for London after initially starting in the lost property office. His clear passion for sustainability has seen him take a lead role in delivering the Mayor of London’s transport strategy with the aim of 80% of trips to be made by foot, bike or public transport by 2041.

Leanne Riley
Head of Corporate Sales, CMAC Group

Leanne started her career in sales roles in the retail sector, before becoming business development manager for Sixt rent-a-car. She joined leading transport business continuity provider, CMAC Group, in 2018 and is currently its head of corporate sales. Leanne has a stellar reputation for her dynamic, charismatic approach to developing propositions that drive customer satisfaction for clients.

Mary O’Neill
Development Manager, GWR

Mary has worked at GWR for over 16 years earning her stripes as a conductor and a guard, before continuing her progression to development manager where she is now a sponsor for GWR projects. Mary is the chair of the GWR Women in Rail group and is also on the steering group of Women in Rail South, helping to inspire other women to realise their own ambitions in rail.

Philip Gerhardt
Head of Route Performance, Arriva London

Starting as a graduate trainee for East London Bus Group in 2008, Philip has worked for a number of bus companies in operations and performance. He is also a mentor for the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport and regularly contributes to Intelligent Transport magazine.

Andrew Yates
Business Development Manager, Bus Éireann

Previously head trader, then marketing manager for Celtic Bookmakers, Andrew joined Bus Eireann in 2011. Starting out as regional manager, he rose to the role of business development manager before being recently appointed to head up the intercity coach business Expressway. Hugely energetic and with a razor-sharp commercial lens, customer is at the heart of the agenda for the highly-regarded Andrew.

Thomas Bell
Innovation Manager, Great Western Railway

After a successful stint at South Western Railway, Thomas has already shown that he’s able to improve the customer experience with his energetic and enthusiastic style. He’s now doing the same at Great Western Railway, and also responsible for founding the Pride Employee Network at South Western Railway.

Stephen Bryce
General Manager, Ipswich Buses

General management roles at Dunn Line preceded Steve becoming operations and HR director for easyBus. In 2019, versatile Steve joined Ipswich Buses as general manager, where he is responsible for the management of the business on a day-to-day basis. He has presided over several customer service initiatives and is renowned for his flair and customer-centric approach.

Jason Wade
Head of Retail Operations, Northern

During his 22-year career on the railway in the North, Jason has navigated his way through great change, successfully ascending the ladder from various operations delivery roles before becoming head of retail operations for Northern in 2019. His exceptional knowledge of the region, combined with his dependable commercial and operational skills and customer-driven approach, has earned him great plaudits in the industry.


Inspiring leaders


Vittorio Pizzuti (pictured)
Operations Director, Transdev Blazefield

Starting his career as a bus driver at Trentbarton in 2004, Vittorio made an early impression on commercial director, Alex Hornby. He rose up the ladder through various operations management roles before following Alex to Transdev Blazefield where he is now operations director. Vittorio is highly regarded for his energetic and engaging leadership approach and ‘can do’ mentality, as well as his fixation with driving up customer satisfaction.

Charlotte Whitfield
Customer Experience Director, Arriva Rail London

There are few more versatile than Charlotte. She has held senior operational roles in and out of the transport industry, including time at First Bus (where she helped prepare for the 2012 Olympics) and G4S. Her Arriva journey started in the bus sector as general manager, before moving to a similar role for Arriva Rail London (ARL). In September 2021, her unstoppable rise continued when she was promoted to customer experience director at ARL.

Dervla McKay
Managing Director, First Aircoach

A graduate from University of Ulster, Dervla joined First Group’s bus division in 2008, undertaking business and general management roles before becoming managing director of First Aircoach in Ireland in 2019. Her mix of operational, customer service and commercial acumen makes her very much an all-rounder, complementing her exceptional leadership and stakeholder relations expertise.

Matt Kitchin
Operations Director, Stagecoach Manchester

A former First Bus graduate trainee, Matt is an all-rounder who held key commercial and operational roles within its Hampshire and Dorset subsidiary before heading up Go Ahead’s Southern Vectis business. Matt made the move to Stagecoach Manchester in 2016 as operations director, where he has initiated several employee engagement activities to drive customer service improvements.

Guillaume (Gee) Lefevre
Managing Director, Teneo

Gee leads Teneo’s work on international transportation, hospitality, and consumer behaviour. He is an expert in using innovative techniques – including cell tower data – in measuring and forecasting consumer demand, bringing new thinking to the transport industry.

Ruth Busby
HR Director, Great Western Railway

Despite being a relative newcomer to the transport sector, joining GWR in 2018, Ruth has already established herself as a key figure in the industry. It’s no wonder she was recently named as ‘HR Director of the Year’ in the HR Personnel Awards. Ruth is involved in a number of industry-wide activities including Rail Wellbeing Live and the Women in Rail and RIA Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Charter.  She is also co-chair of Women in Rail South.

Mark Goodall
Operations Director, Chiltern Railways

A Network Rail graduate trainee, Mark has enjoyed a hugely diverse career, encompassing freight and passenger services. He became head of cross city services for London Midland in 2013, then general manager for West Midlands operations before making the move to Chiltern Railways as operations director in 2019. Heading up all aspects of the service, including stations, Mark is renowned for his calm, measured, dependable approach and strong leadership skills.

Kam Gill
Operations Director, Stagecoach Midlands

Kam began his career on the Stagecoach management scheme, spending time in Perth and Dover before taking root in the Midlands. Having worked in several management roles, he was recently promoted to operations director where he also mentors rising talent in the industry, inspiring those people in the BAME community to take up leadership positions.

Kathryn Pulham
Finance Director, Pulham & Sons (Coaches) Ltd

Kathryn has built on a fabulous reputation for her family-run business by continuously investing in the fleet, developing the business, growing her client base and further improving what they do best. She is also consistently helping others through her role as chair of youth mental health charity Headspace.

Martin Gibbon
Operations Director, Stagecoach West

Awarded the Young Manager of the Year at the UK Bus Awards in 2015, Martin’s commercial and operational prowess has helped him to quickly rise through the ranks. He is also a member of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport, a committee member on BusMark (CILT’s Bus and Coach Benchmarking Group) and has been a board member for many Business Improvement Districts across the country.

Simon Mohammad
Operations Director, First Bus

Simon worked his way up the ranks at Cardiff Bus, becoming its head of operations in 2010, before joining First’s Hants, Dorset & Berkshire business as operations manager, then as its interim head of operations. In August 2021 he was promoted to operations director for its Somerset Passenger Solutions business. Simon is a charismatic, hugely engaging, galvanising leader with an obsessive focus on the detail of the customer proposition.

Tony Baxter
Director East Region, Northern Railway

Tony learned his trade at Royal Mail, where he headed up its letters business in Wales and held senior operational director roles in the Midlands and North West. He joined Northern Railway in 2020 and oversees all aspects of its East Region. Tony is highly regarded for his personable style, results-driven approach and relentless focus on customer service.


On the front line


Laura Whitehurst (pictured)
Train Manager, Chiltern Railways

Before joining Chiltern Railways three years ago, Laura had previously held roles in aviation, coach transportation and property management sectors. She has taken the company by storm with her consistent focus on customer service. Laura also leads and facilitates the ‘Everyone Home Safe Every Day’ culture change programme within Chiltern.

Emma Hales
Onboard Service Manager,Great Western Railway

Emma has moved from being a customer host, to senior host and is now onboard service manager covering the Wales region. She has natural leadership skills and champions and supports her colleagues. Emma is driven by a passion to help them progress within their roles and the business.

Kevin Mayers
Kings Cross Station Ambassador,LNER

Kevin has an infectious smile and a positive outlook that puts customers at ease as they travel through Kings Cross station seamlessly.
He is well respected and liked by his colleagues and displays a natural leadership quality and an ability to work under pressure.

Steven Toogood
Senior Guards Manager – Central Region,Great Western Railway

Steven started as an operations management graduate for First Group and has gone on to be a guards manager and is now a senior guards manager. Stephen is well respected and a solid performer – he’s also involved in a number of performance and safety projects and has overseen the introduction of four new train types and new ticket machines.

Sian Handley
Head of Drivers for MTR Elizabeth Line 

Sian followed in her mum’s footsteps joining the railway, starting with GWR on the front line as a customer host in 2008. She’s consistently risen through the ranks and this year was promoted to head of drivers for the MTR Elizabeth Line.

David Kipling
Head of Train Crew Strategy,Great Western Railway

David is a real subject matter expert with an intricate knowledge of his area and has even authored a number of RDG papers and guidance documents on workforce planning and resourcing. David is also an active member of Young Rail Professionals Western Region.

Sultana Pasha
Safeguarding Manager, MTR Elizabeth Line

Sultana has progressed quickly since joining MTR as a customer and community ambassador in 2015. She moved to become the team leader and has been working as safeguarding manager for over two years, responsible for many industry-leading initiatives, such as developing 72-hour fatality reviews and suicide prevention plans. She is also a visible and active member of Muslims in Rail and partakes in other community and voluntary activities too.


Building a better future


Vinay Parmar (pictured)
Managing Director, National Express Accessible Transport

Vinay oversaw contact centres in the financial services sector before joining National Express in 2015. Since then, he has enjoyed a stellar rise being UK customer and digital experience director before becoming managing director of accessible transport in 2019. He is an exceptional communicator and leader.

Oliver Craig
Scheme Sponsor for the Redevelopment of Euston’s Conventional Station, Network Rail

Starting as a graduate in 2018, Oliver has rapidly made a big impact. Before his Euston responsibility, he was Associate Sponsor for the TransPennine Route Upgrade at Network Rail, sponsoring the resilience scope of all of the diversionary routes that will be used during the programme. He’s also the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) Next Generation UK chair.

Shane Jackson
Field Service & Projects Manager, Alliance Transport Technologies

Starting as a mechanical apprentice two years ago, Shane moved from an engineer into a managerial role and is making a big impact. At just 23 years old, he’s already project managed the successful installation of over 1,000 emissions control retrofit systems.

Stephen Foster
Head of HR – IT transformation,Network Rail

Stephen started in Transport for London where he gained experience in HR roles and change management. He also spent time at South West Trains, Stagecoach bus, LNER and more recently at Network Rail. He’s currently working on workforce modernisation and is part of the GBR Transition Team, shaping the future of the organisation.

Emma Palmer
Strategy Lead, Rail Delivery Group

Emma started in the rail industry at Chiltern Railways in 2008 where she made her name as a ticketing innovator and inspiring manager. After working in other roles, she joined the Rail Delivery Group as strategic lead for innovative ticketing in 2016. She is also leading conversations in the rail industry to improve diversity and inclusion as co-chair of the Ethnic Minority Network.

Tanya Rahman
Scheme Project Manager,Seconded to Network Rail

Tanya started her career with a summer internship in Network Rail’s Digital Train Control Team, while completing her final year at the University of York. After graduating, she joined Mercury3 Consult as a graduate consultant and is now seconded to Network Rail to provide project management and commercial support.

David Heckles
Transport Systems Manager,Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games Organising Committee

Before entering the bus industry as a graduate trainee with First in 2013, David was a semi-professional athlete and ski instructor. Progressing from the graduate scheme, he took on project management and business support roles within First Bus, before moving into operations management within various companies up and down the country.

Peter Gillan
Senior Chartered Planner, SLC Property/Ethical Partnership

Working hard behind the scenes on new railway stations and lines, Peter manages planning and related consents needed for these complex infrastructure projects. His talent and enthusiasm were recently recognised with a ‘highly commended’ award in the Royal Town Planning Institute ‘Young Planner of the Year’ awards and the Newcastle University ‘Rising Star Alumni Achievement’ Awards.

Victoria Garcia
Accessibility and Communities Manager, Brighton and Hove Buses and Metrobus

Victoria came into transport quite late in her career and has been working in the bus industry for the last 12 years. She previously led the customer experience team before being appointed to the accessibility position. Since then, she has been leading big industry initiatives such as dementia friendly flooring on all Brighton and Hove buses and creating safe spaces at travel shops and offices.

Charlie Woodhead
Accessibility & Inclusion Manager, LNER

Charlie has been with LNER since graduating in Law in 2018, where he is responsible for leading accessibility improvements. He’s also the chair of the industry’s EDI Charter working group and is a finalist in the CILT Awards for Excellence 2022. With his love of trains and passion for equality, Charlie is helping to guide and shape the industry.

Flora Ofori
HR Business Partner – Employee Relations, South Western Railway

Flora joined South Western Railway as a dispatcher and is a role model for others in how to make the most of all the career opportunities in the industry. Having been seconded to many different roles and taking up the opportunity to further her experience, Flora has climbed the ladder and is now the HR Business Partner. She is also the chair of the SWR gender equality group, Inspire.

Simon Rawling
Service Delivery Manager, Chiltern Railways

After studying music at Royal Holloway and being a professional violinist working for the BBC and Dame Vivienne Westwood, Simon joined the Chartered Institute for Railway Operators (CIRO) before moving to Chiltern Railways’ train planning team in 2017. He moved into fleet planning within Chiltern’s engineering and safety department, and in recent months was promoted to service delivery manager, where he is now leading two teams of engineers. Simon has continued to support the work of CIRO and is helping to attract new talent to the industry.


Obsessed with customer service


Kemar Gilbert (pictured)
Fleet Strategic Planning Manager,East Midlands Railway

Starting off his career in a frontline customer service role, Kemar has gone on to hold leadership and management roles in customer service, operations and now engineering. He has strong leadership skills and a passion to make a positive impact for both customers and his colleagues. Kemar also coaches new managers and aims to encourage new talent to the transport industry.

Sophie Morris,
Head of Customer Experience Strategy,West Midlands Trains

After studying English with Media, Culture and Society at the University of Birmingham, Sophie worked for a number of businesses in recruitment and HR roles, before moving to London Midland (now West Midlands Trains) in 2015. A jack of all trades, Sophie has had a number of roles at West Midlands Trains, including duty station manager, acting regional manager and customer relations manager. She’s had a rapid rise to head of customer experience strategy and has a desire to put customers at the heart of everything.

Peter Farnham
Head of Customer and Performance, West Coast South Network Rail

Peter’s CV is very rounded – managing drivers and overseeing operational standards at South Western Railway then head of operations strategy for Arriva Rail London, before moving to Network Rail. Throughout his career, Peter has been renowned for ensuring that the customer is at the heart of all operational plans, initiatives and behaviours.

Lucy Wootton
Head of Grand Rail Collaboration

Starting her career as an office administrator at Chiltern Railways, Lucy rose to the role of station manager at Marylebone before being seconded in 2021 as head of the West Midlands Grand Rail Collaboration. Working with TOC MDs, the Department for Transport, Network Rail and other key stakeholders, Lucy is driving customer service improvement throughout the region.

Holly Bruce,
Customer Contact & Engagement Manager, LNER

Holly joined LNER in 2016 as customer contact team leader and soon earned plaudits for her relentless pursuit of customer satisfaction and the way she brought people with her on the journey. She was promoted to customer contact operations manager, overseeing LNER’s call centre before becoming customer contact & engagement manager in November 2020.

Alan Riley
Head of Stations, LNER

Key roles at Virgin Trains, Serco and GWR preceded Alan joining Chiltern Railways in 2012 where he rose to the role of customer service director. Renowned as a strategic thinker with a hands-on approach, he joined LNER as head of stations in 2020. Under Alan’s leadership, Wakefield Westgate achieved Britain’s Best Large Station at the National Rail Awards this year.

Cariad Morgan
Senior Information and Customer Experience Manager, South Western Railway

Cariad joined the then South West Trains in 2016 and is now managing the team she joined and working to transform the information delivery service at South Western Railway. One of the UK’s youngest chartered managers at just 27, she’s proven to be an adept young leader exemplifying the qualities of a capable leader and a stand-out performer.

Karen Cooper
Head of Stakeholders, Blackpool Transport Services

Karen lives and breathes customer experience and in her current role as head of stakeholders at Blackpool Transport she has a diverse responsibility for customer experience, marketing, training, development and stakeholder management. She engages directly with community groups to understand their needs and helps implement their ideas.

Alex Whybro
Service Quality Regimes Manager, DfT

Alex has just moved into this newly created Department for Transport role and we’re expecting big things from him after his time at c2c, where he was in charge of the service quality regime, accessibility, customer policy, customer engagement events and panels, car parking and customer information strategies.

Karen Tiley
Regional Manager for London and South East and East Midlands, CPT

With over 20 years at the Confederation of Passenger Transport, Karen continues to support the bus and coach industry with a consistent focus on customer service. This has never been more important following the pandemic, and her support has made life easier and helped to keep services operating.


  • Alex Warner, MD, Tracsis Transport Consultancy and chair, West Midlands Grand Rail Collaboration
  • Giles Fearnley, former MD of First Bus and Tracsis Advisor
  • Jane Cole, MD, Blackpool Transport and president CPT (2021)
  • Andrea Higginbottom, head of business development, Tracsis Transport Consultancy
  • Robert Jack, managing editor of Passenger Transport
  • Luke Bodin, director of BA Events; David Sidebottom, director, Transport Focus
  • Neil Micklethwaite, business development director at Stagecoach Group and vice-president of Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport
  • Abu Siddeeq, head of customer experience at LNER and Trustee on the board of Women in Rail
  • George Chilcott, Young Rail Professionals
  • Emma Gascoigne, director, Big Foot Communications