Former Dutch cop takes top job at troubled train firm

Posted On 22 Jun 2018 at 11:43 am

A former Dutch police officer has been appointed to restore order to the the timetable chaos blighting the lives of people in Brighton and Hove.

Patrick Verwer

Go-Ahead Group has appointed Patrick Verwer as chief executive of Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) in place of Charles Horton.

Mr Verwer was the managing director of London Midland Trains and had been due to join GTR in September as chief operating officer.

The Spearhead

He will take up his new post early next month with the task of sorting out the delays and cancellations affecting Southern, Thameslink, Gatwick Express and Great Northern trains.

At London Midland, also a Govia franchise, he was credited with sorting out staff shortages, dealing with old and failing trains and turning round the company’s “atrocious” performance.

A similar if bigger job awaits on the busiest franchise in Britain, with Govia having been replaced as the London Midland operator at the end of last year after a competitive bidding process.

Mr Horton left after the new timetable, which was supposed to boost capacity and improve services, appears to have made services worse.

On Monday, at a House of Commons Transport Select Committee hearing, he acknowledged passengers’ frustration but suggested that Network Rail, which operates the track, signalling and rail infrastructure, also shared the blame.

Go-Ahead chief executive David Brown said: “I have full confidence in Patrick’s ability and determination to lead GTR and its team through the current difficulties and to deliver the long-term benefits of the new timetable.

“Patrick brings with him a long history of collaborating with industry partners such as Network Rail and the DfT (Department for Transport) to deliver for customers.”

Mr Verwer said: “I look forward to working with my new colleagues to deliver on the transformation that is already under way at GTR.

“My focus will be on ensuring we meet the needs of our customers each and every day.”

Mr Verwer was managing director of London Midland from January 2012 to December last year.

Before that he worked in the transport industry in Britain and Europe, specialising in rail and airport services.
 He first came to Britain in 2003 as managing director of Merseyrail.

He was born and educated in the Netherlands and started his career in the Rotterdam Police Force rising to senior officer level.

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