Trans Pennine Express (TPE) managing director Leo Goodwin has stepped down from his role to “pursue opportunities outside the group.”
Goodwin, who left the business suddenly on 5 March, had been at the helm of the beleaguered service since 2015, when FirstGroup won the bid to take charge of the franchise, but had recently admitted the service was 'not up to scratch.’
TPE has faced a consistent barrage of criticism as passengers have been plagued by delays, cancellations and controversial timetable disruptions, and has been warned by the government that it is in danger of losing its franchise.
Steve Montgomery, managing director of parent company First Rail, said: Leo has held various positions in First Rail since joining us in 1999, including key roles in our train operating companies, on our bid teams and in developing our East Coast open access proposition.
“Most recently Leo has been TPE managing director following FirstGroup’s winning franchise bid in 2015 and successfully launched our new franchise and brand the following year.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank Leo for his contribution to First Rail. We wish him every success in his future career.”
In a brief parting statement to TPE colleagues, Goodwin said: “It has been a privilege to work with you all and I would like to wish the company and each of you individually all the very best for the future.”
However, Henri Murison, director of Northern Powerhouse Partnership, welcomed Goodwin’s departure. “The changes made by First Group, with Leo Goodwin leaving his position as managing director of Trans Pennine Express, is a welcome signal that the reckless shambles of the last December timetable change and previous errors in leadership, such as resisting legitimate press and wider scrutiny, have been rightly put at his door,” said Murison.
“He was warned by elected leaders in West Yorkshire, he was warned by experienced operational leaders in the rail industry; yet he still started running a timetable without necessary workforce agreements or enough trained drivers for instance.
“The wider First Rail business have an otherwise much better reputation on other parts of the rail network. It is right to assume that as they are getting a grip that improvements for their long suffering customers here in the north can’t be far behind, with engineering work linked to Trans Pennine Route Upgrade in the coming years requiring a customer focused business working in close partnership with Network Rail.”
Liz Collins, currently finance director at TPE, will act as interim managing director while TPE seek a permanent successor.