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Wednesday, 23 February 2011

New job

OK now I know the gossip is out there because hits on my blog have picked up a bit in the past few days.

However I am able to confirm that it is announced today that I am leaving First after over 12 years to become Managing Director Surface Transport at Transport for London, succeeding David Brown who is, in turn, becoming the Group Chief Executive of Go-Ahead plc.

I am leaving First having spent over a third of my working life there. Little did I know when Moir Lockhead asked me to stay 6 months, in July 1998, I would still be here over a decade later. I had just sold my bus business, Capital Citybus, to First and everyone rather assumed I would set up again with my close friends and colleagues.

I am rather glad I didn't. I have had a most wonderful time at First looking after all of London and the South East, then as Commercial Director for the whole of UK and more recently as Customer Service and Communications Director.

I have led some great adventures including our acquisitions in Dublin, Chester and Truronian in Cornwall; I have looked after Germany, worked with the USA teams, met some brilliant people and attended some outstanding events. Perhaps the most spectacular was the First reception on board the aircraft carrier USS Midway anchored in San Diego harbour.

No greater moment was when my team won us the spectator transport contract for the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Now the frequent excursions to Aberdeen HQ and other places in the UK will conclude - over 10 years of trains, planes and hotels. Fond memories of being marooned in odd places, searching for a mobile phone signal and balancing my laptop on my knee will all join those great people I have worked with in my oft-threatened book. (No - I still don't have time to write it).

There will be those who try to look behind these events to uncover a deeper reason. So for the record I have had nothing but the closest of relationships with Sir Moir Lockhead and more recently Tim O'Toole. I have worked closely with my fellow Directors and it is with some regret that the timing of this vacancy - which was announced last autumn - co-incides with the arrival of Giles Fearnley only a couple of weeks ago. His is an excellent appointment and having known him for over 20 years, I am sorry we will have not worked for longer together.

I am thrilled to take over as MD Surface Transport at TfL. I started my career in what is now the Department of Transport but have spent over 30 years in the private sector. Having learned a considerable amount, largely the hard way, I go back to the public sector to pass it on. I return to my London roots and am looking forward to this new challenge.

Personal friends will know I am entirely ignorant about sport but I am delighted to now lead a great team - the one which will deliver the London Olympics and, at the same time, keep all of London moving, just like it does every day.

Wish me luck!



  1. Hi Leon, just thought I would offer my congratulations on your new post as Managing Director Surface Transport at Transport for London, I can't think of a better person for the job. Just to let you know as well that our Beith Transport Preservation Trust are having an Open Day on Sunday the 26TH of June.

    Michael Roulston's RM759 is already in our paint sheds getting re-painted back into London red with white relief band and should hopefully be back on the road by then. I also hope to have sourced a new nearside front brake cylinder for RML2271 by then so my own bus will be roadworthy for the day. Our AEC Regal, RF530 will also be out on the free service and if you can make it up for the event, we could make you the bus's main driver although you could also take a turn driving the Routemasters, Titans and other buses we will be running.

  2. Well Done Leon - You will do well for London. And add yet another Chapter for that book!


  3. Congratulations on such a prestigious appointment - I am sure you will be a great figurehead for the TfL team!

  4. Good luck from a Londoner - it'll be a tough job, so I suspect you'll need a bit of it, but a most rewarding one too!

    Just promise that all the fantastic advances made in the last decade by the bus network in London are maintained and built upon, and aren't allowed to simply wither away.

    Challenging times, but interesting ones too - and of course the Surface Transport brief encompasses a lot more than just buses!

  5. Congratulations Leon.

    Long Way from London Pride Days.

  6. Leon it's been a privilege being part of your team for the last 2 and a half years!

  7. sorry pressed enter too soon Good Luck with the new role!

  8. Well Done Leon, and best of luck in the new post.

  9. Congratulations Leon - its good news for TfL and for London.

    Good luck.

  10. So at last then Sir Leon . . . . . .

    Now remember Hydrogen Fuel Cell buses will need a new distinctive livery of white, pink and orange stripes. All services to the Olympic Park will need to be yellow and Silver and the Express coach service from Heathrow to Lakeside Park & Ride site via Stratford and West Ham will need to be numbered X1.

    I reckon you'll need a good central base to run everything from and can recomend a place in St James's Street. Oh and by the way I must have a chat with you about what we can do with all those coaches laying over in Central London while their customers are watching various sporting events . . . . . .

    Great News - well done and I know how much this means to you so I'm delighted for you. The abbreviation H&D will no longer just conjure up Hants and Dorset or Hedingham & District in the bus world - but the legendary pairing of Hendy and Daniels will go down in history I'm sure!


  11. Congratulations Leon and good luck in your new job!