Edinburgh transport jobs filled by army veterans

Buses and a tram side by side on Princes Street. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Buses and a tram side by side on Princes Street. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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TWO former military men are set to take over the top jobs in Edinburgh’s transport sector.

George Lowder MBE, a decorated army commander, will replace controversial Ian Craig as chief executive of Transport for Edinburgh.

Meanwhile, Lea Harrison, who started his career in the Royal Corps of Transport as a driver before progressing to the rank of corporal, will become the new general manager of Edinburgh Trams following the departure of Tom Norris.

Elsewhere, Richard Hall, a seasoned bus professional who previously worked on transport during the London Olympics, has secured the managing director role at Lothian Buses – a position currently being filled on a temporary basis by Lothian Buses chair Jim McFarlane under the title general manager.

The appointments mean the three biggest jobs in the Capital’s transport scene have now been filled following a period of huge upheaval.

Earlier this year a damaging boardroom row led to the departure of a host of top officials, with a formal grievance lodged against Mr Craig, who was then boss of Lothian Buses, amid claims he undermined senior staff and failed to consult on major decisions.

Salaries for the city’s transport chiefs have previously come under fire, with Mr Craig pocketing £270,000 a year.

Bosses were today unable to confirm salaries for the new appointments.

Lesley Hinds, chair of Transport for Edinburgh and the city’s transport leader, said the new senior team will be “pivotal in supporting the transport infrastructure we need but also the wider economy”.

She said: “We expected that these positions would attract high-calibre candidates and we weren’t disappointed.

“Transport for Edinburgh and the city it serves are major attractions for some of the best in the UK transport profession and I’m delighted that we have secured such exceptional interest.”

Mr McFarlane added: “We are delighted to be able to appoint Richard, who has vast experience and excellent leadership credentials, to lead the whole Lothian Buses team to further success.”

Bosses said each of the positions will report to the chair of their respective board, with the managing director of Lothian Buses and the general manager of Edinburgh Trams also having “dotted line” accountability to the chief executive of Transport for Edinburgh.

Charles Monheim, chair of Edinburgh Trams, said: “Lea comes to Edinburgh Trams with a wealth of operational experience in the industry that stretches right back to his days as a tram driver.

“The trams have become an established and valued part of city life and will remain a crucial part of the long-term transport vision for the city.”

All change as jobs are filled

• George Lowder: Born and educated in Edinburgh, he joins following a decorated military career spanning nearly 35 years. Latterly his role was in the MoD, where he led a multi-agency and multi-disciplined team. During his military career he received a Commander’s Commendation for his actions on Operation Desert Storm, a Queen’s Commendation for Valuable Service in Bosnia and in 1998 he was made an MBE.

• Richard Hall: After studying electrical engineering, Richard started his bus career in coaches and private hire and then spent six years with Stagecoach and three years with Veolia Transport in Wales. He joined Arriva in 2010 where he worked in Glasgow before working on the transportation delivery for the 2012 Olympics and laterlly in Malta.

• Lea Harrison: A former army corporal, he left the forces to join Greater Manchester Metrolink as a tram driver. Over 25 years he was promoted frequently and he is currently head of service delivery with Tramlink Nottingham.