NORTHERN has a new managing director, following yesterday’s changeover from Arriva to the Department for Transport’s Operator of Last Resort.
The franchise was renationalised after almost two years of poor performance, caused by several factors, and because it was no longer ‘financially sustainable’, according to transport secretary Grant Shapps.
The new md is Nick Donovan, who is the independent chair of the Network Performance Board and has been advising the ScotRail Alliance on performance matters. He was previously interim engineering director at Arriva Rail North in 2016, and also served as md at TransPennine Express from 2011 to 2015.
Outgoing Northern managing director David Brown is moving to the DfT’s Operator of Last Resort (DOHL).
Robin Gisby, who chairs Northern Trains and is chief executive of the Operator of Last Resort, said: ‘Nick’s widespread experience, leadership of TPE and his role as chair of the industry’s National Performance Board has given him a first-class insight into all the issues and challenges we face, not just as Northern but for all operators across the Northern region.
‘Given the current circumstances and environment we are operating in, I am very confident that Nick is the right person to lead the business.
‘David Brown has faced some very difficult challenges during his time leading the Northern business. I have now asked David to move across to our holding company where we can explore other senior level opportunities and retain his skills and experience. We should all take this opportunity to acknowledge David’s significant contribution to the Northern franchise over the last two and a half years.
‘Our priority over the coming weeks will be to stabilise performance whilst continuing to deliver existing projects including the introduction of new trains. Over the next 100 days, we will push forward with a widespread review of the business and its operations to ensure that we can and will deliver the improvements that Northern’s passengers deserve.’
In a related bid to improve Northern, a new stakeholder panel has been set up, and its members include the Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham and the leader of Leeds City Council Judith Blake.
Yesterday’s transition to public ownershop was achieved without any reported problems. Contrary to earlier indications, the core brand name ‘Northern’ has not changed.