Alex Hynes, genial head of Northern Rail, is to be the new chief of the Scottish Alliance and takes up the position later this year.

Speaking at a Rail Media sustainability conference in Leeds last year, Alex Hynes described how he was devolving power to regional directors at Northern. The move was in keeping with empowering senior management at operational level to take quick and effective decisions.

‘I’m not sure where that will leave me,’ Hynes joked. Now we know.

One of the industry’s most effective leaders in recent times is heading for Glasgow to head up Scotland’s expanding national railway. He will be employed by Network Rail and will lead the alliance of Abellio ScotRail and Network Rail in Scotland.

While Hynes packs his bag at Northern, erstwhile alliance head Phil Verster is heading south to take up a new role running the East-West Rail Link project – the new railway planned to connect Oxford and Cambridge via Bletchley.

Verster had come under increasing pressure following a run of poor performance at ScotRail. A popular figure in the industry, Verster will be orchestrating moves to connect the two university cities. The former managing director of NR’s London North East division and deputy chief executive officer at Irish Rail is understood to be delighted at his new role.

Rail chiefs agree the new job is a tough one. ScotRail is administered by the Scottish Government, not Marsham Street. However, Hynes, like many rail executives before him, will view ScotRail as a career pinnacle. ‘The ScotRail Alliance is delivering one of the largest programmes of investment, change and modernisation since the railway was built. To be part of that, and the plans to vastly improve services and capacity for customers, is hugely exciting for me,’ he says.

Northerner Alex was educated at Altrincham Grammar School and Leeds University where he read economics. After graduating in 1998, he worked for Halcrow before joining the Office of Rail Regulation in 2002. A progressive railway career saw him flourish at Go Ahead where he went on to be commercial director of London Midland. He later became managing director of rail development at Go Ahead and went on to head up Northern Rail in 2013.

Alex is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport, a Fellow of the Institute of Directors and chairs the Institution of Railway Operators.