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Woman takes charge at UK’s biggest train company

GoVia Thameslink Railway has appointed Angie Doll as its new chief executive, who will be the second woman in charge of a mainline rail franchise (Handout)
GoVia Thameslink Railway has appointed Angie Doll as its new chief executive, who will be the second woman in charge of a mainline rail franchise (Handout)

The UK’s biggest train company has appointed a woman as its new chief executive.

Angie Doll will take the helm at GoVia Thameslink Railway (GTR) – which runs Thameslink, Southern, Great Northern and Gatwick Express trains – at the end of November.

She will become only the second woman in charge of a mainline rail franchise, following Claire Mann at South Western Railway. She is an advocate for diversity in a traditionally male-dominated industry.

Her in-tray will be filled by the battle to secure the return of commuters to weekday services and placating passengers in the nationwide row over the closure of ticket offices.

She also has to contend with the unresolved national strike action by the RMT and Aslef, which resulted in virtually no trains on Southern, Thameslink and Great Northern on September 1.

GTR trains carry about a fifth of all UK passengers but, like other rail firms, it has been battling to attract passengers back to its weekday services.

Last week Ms Doll told the London Assembly that passenger demand on GTR’s suburban services was at 75 per cent of pre-pandemic levels.

Latest figures from the Office of Rail and Road show that GTR has been carrying a total of about 20m passengers a month, compared with about 30m pre-pandemic.

About 20,000 of the 680,000 ticket office consultation responses related to GTR stations. The firm has proposed to retain ticket offices at 18 of its largest and busiest stations, including Brighton, East Croydon, Finsbury Park, Blackfriars, Victoria and St Albans.

Ms Doll is currently chief operating officer at GTR. She will succeed Patrick Verwer, who is becoming rail chief executive at GTR’s parent company, The Go-Ahead Group.

She joined the railway industry in 1999 as station manager in Brighton and has held a number of senior roles, including managing director of Southern and Gatwick Express.

Christian Schreyer, group chief executive of The Go-Ahead Group, said: “Angie is a superb leader with a true instinct for the railways, and a keen eye for the needs of passengers.

“She has excelled in every role she’s held at Go-Ahead and she is the ideal person to steer GTR to its next phase of growth.”

Ms Doll said: “This railway is very close to my heart and I feel proud and honoured to be taking on this new challenge.

“Partnering with our stakeholders and industry colleagues to deliver for our customers is going to be my absolute focus, so we meet customers’ needs, connect people and help communities thrive.”