Eurostar loses UK directors in shake-up

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The Independent Online

Eurostar is set to lose two key British non-executive directors with nearly 30 years' combined experience at the cross-channel train operator as part of a management shake-up.

Rob Holden, the chief executive of the proposed Heathrow-to-Essex Crossrail project, and Adele Biss, the former chairman of the British Tourist Authority, will leave early next year.

The changes come at a challenging time for Eurostar. Under EU legislation, Eurostar's monopoly of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link will end in January and so it could soon be open to competition from other rail operators.

An industry source said: "These guys know that they are well past their sell-by dates as non-executives of Eurostar." It is understood that the Department for Transport (DfT) has started a search for new non-executive directors and, according to the source, has "already approached some people".

As of next year, Eurostar will be simplified into a traditional single company structure, helping to improve communications and decision-making.

At present, it is essentially a joint venture between the DfT, France's SNCF and Belgium's state railway company, SNCB. There is, however, an overall management structure of which Mr Holden and Ms Biss have been a part.

The corporate restructuring will be complemented by a reshuffling of the senior team that will see the chief executive, Richard Brown, become chairman. He will be succeeded by chief operating officer Nicolas Petrovic.

A spokeswoman for Eurostar said: "Adele Biss and Rob Holden will be stepping down when the new Eurostar International starts trading. Between them they have provided nearly 30 years of hugely valuable service."

The restructuring will see the DfT's stake rise from 33 per cent to 40, with SNCF's slightly diluted to 55 per cent.