England

Govia Thameslink names chief executive

Patrick Verwer Image copyright GTR
Image caption Patrick Verwer was the managing director of London Midland between January 2012 and December 2017

Beleaguered rail firm Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) has appointed a new chief executive.

GTR, which runs Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern, said Patrick Verwer would take up the post in July.

Mr Verwer was in charge of London Midland Trains when it lost the franchise for West Midlands routes.

It had been forced to pay out £7m in compensation after 800 services were delayed or cancelled in 2012 because of a shortage of drivers.

London Midland Trains lost the franchise for routes in the West Midlands, as well as from London Euston to Crewe, and Liverpool to Birmingham in December 2017.

At one point during London Midland's tenure the 16:46 from London Euston to Crewe was then the most overcrowded rail service in England and Wales, with more people standing up than sitting down, according to Department for Transport figures.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash, who described GTR as a "rotten franchise", has yet to comment on Mr Verwer's appointment.

Image caption Charles Horton said he recognised the frustrations of rail passengers

GTR Passengers have faced major disruption as hundreds of trains were cancelled following the introduction of new timetables in May.

About 230 daily services were removed from GTR's routes to make for a "more consistent timetable", the company said.

Charles Horton, announcing his resignation as GTR chief executive on Friday, said it was "the right time to hand over the leadership" of GTR.

He had rejected claims the company did not have enough drivers to work the new timetable, saying: "We have sufficient drivers, but where drivers are available to run these services is mismatched."

David Brown, chief executive of Go-Ahead, GTR's parent company, 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."

Image copyright Alamy
Image caption Commuters say lives, jobs and towns are being destroyed by delays and cancellations

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