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Management Team

Directly Operated Railways is managed by a small team of executives, each of whom has significant experience in the rail and wider transport sector.

Michael Holden
Chief Executive Officer of Directly Operated Railways Limited

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Michael Holden started his early career with British Rail as a traffic student in 1974. He later became Divisional Operations Manager for the South West Division of Network South East, and in 1994, joined the newly created Railtrack as Production Manager for the South West Zone. He was then appointed Zone Director for East Anglia, and finally Regional Director Southern.

In 2003 he became Managing Director of Connex South Eastern, and immediately found himself negotiating the transition from that franchise into a period of public sector ownership. He created South Eastern Trains and ran it successfully until it was re-franchised in April 2006. In his subsequent career as a railway management consultant, he specialised in providing strategic advice to clients and leading bid teams for franchise, concession and PFI competitions in the UK and Europe.

He was appointed a Non Executive Director of DOR and East Coast in July 2009, and Chief Executive of DOR and Chairman of East Coast from January 2012, until stepping down from his role at East Coast following its successful handover to Inter City Railways in March 2015. In April 2013 he was appointed as an inaugural Member of the Department for Transport’s Franchise Advisory Panel.

Doug Sutherland

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Doug Sutherland is a Chartered Management Accountant who has held senior finance roles with Black & Decker, Grand Metropolitan and Dairy Crest. In 1995 he moved to the public sector, initially as Managing Director Finance for North of Scotland Water and then Managing Director Finance and Commercial for the Strategic Rail Authority. He was Chairman and Chief Executive of British Railways Board (Residuary) Ltd from 2003 to 2013. He served as Chairman of South Eastern Trains (Holdings) during its period of public ownership, and from 2006 to 2010 was a Non-Executive Director of OPD.


Andy Cope
Non-executive director

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Andy Cope is a Chartered Engineer who started work as an apprentice with the Birmingham Division of British Rail in 1972. His first job was as a fitter at Oxley Depot, Wolverhampton. He became a Supervisor at Duddeston Carriage in Birmingham, and then went to Derby working in the regional headquarters technical organisation. From there he spent five years as Shift Manager at Craigentinny train depot near Edinburgh, before moving to Bristol as Depot Engineer at St Philips Marsh. Following a period as Head of Engineering Production for First Great Western, he established the engineering function at First Capital Connect and became their first Engineering Director. Andy Cope is committed to the development of people in the business, and the championing of engineering techniques as an asset for every train operating company.

David Walker
Finance Director

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David Walker is a Fellow of the Chartered Association of Certified Accountants, who started his career with the National Coal Board. Then in 1979 he joined the then Trusthouse Forte Group initially as a Management Accountant. David progressed through a number of senior financial positions before taking the position of Group Financial Controller with The Forte Group.

In 1995 he joined Railtrack as Financial Controller of the East Anglia Zone before moving to the Southern Region as Business Development Manager, subsequently he was appointed as Investment Manager with responsibility for the development and delivery of all infrastructure projects across the Southern Region, transferring to Network Rail in 2002.

In 2004 David joined the Scanmoor Group as Managing Director of its Rail Division and then set up and was appointed as Managing Director of its Romanian Division in 2005. Since 2007 he has run a number of business activities in the UK and Romania.

Rob Mason
Non-executive director

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Robert Mason has over 30 years’ experience in the rail industry and holds a degree in Mathematics and Statistics and a Masters Degree from the Business School at Imperial College, London. Rob is a marketing expert in UK railways having held central directing roles in many of the more innovative advances made by passenger railways. In the run up to privatisation, Rob was the British Rail Director of Privatisation Studies helping to set the framework for the franchised railways and subsequently set up Gatwick Express as the first stand-alone passenger railway company where he was Managing Director. He carried out an interim role with the Strategic Rail Authority as the Franchise Director for the Western Region. He has been involved in developing marketing and commercial strategies for several franchise bids in the UK. He has worked with DOR on the transfer of the East Coast franchise and in leading a review of pricing opportunities.

Marianna Khoury
Personal assistant