South Western rail boss on track to become London's first female transport commissioner at TfL

Claire Mann: highest-ranking woman at TfL (TfL)
Claire Mann: highest-ranking woman at TfL (TfL)

The boss of one of London’s key commuter railways is to become the most senior woman ever appointed by Transport for London.

Claire Mann, managing director of South Western Railway, will become chief operating officer at TfL, essentially second in command to TfL commissioner Andy Lord.

The appointment puts her on course to become London’s first woman transport commissioner, though Mr Lord was only formally appointed in June this year and would expect to remain in post for about five years.

Ms Mann had previously been director of buses at TfL before joining South Western in 2021, but will rejoin the capital’s public transport operator next March.

She began her career as a driver on the Heathrow Express and is highly regarded in the transport industry.

Lord Hendy of Richmond Hill, chairman of Network Rail and a former TfL commissioner, said: “It’s fantastic, and brilliant news for London. She is just so competent.”

At South Western, Ms Mann has had to contend with a series of train strikes over pay while trying to rebuild passenger numbers, especially commuter journeys that plummeted during and in the wake of the pandemic.

She has also faced a battle to introduce new Arterio trains on the network in and out of Waterloo, the UK’s busiest railway station.

A pledge to have the first trains in service by the end of the year is now at risk due to a row with the RMT general secretary Mick Lynch.

At TfL, Ms Mann will be in charge of services on the Tube, Elizabeth line, London Overground, DLR and bus network.

TfL is currently locked in a funding battle with the Government and is seeking £500m a year from next April to help fund new trains on the Piccadilly line – and to allow an order to be placed for a new fleet of Bakerloo line trains.

Glynn Barton will remain as chief operating officer until next March before becoming TfL’s director of buses. TfL’s current director of buses, Louise Cheeseman, retires next week.

Mr Lord said: "Claire is an outstanding transport professional with deep experience of improving customer service.

"At a time when customer numbers continue to rise and we work to support London's post-pandemic recovery and attract new customers, Claire's customer focus and wide-ranging public transport industry background will play a vital role in our work. We are delighted to have her return to TfL in this key leadership position.”

Ms Mann said she was “delighted” to be returning to TfL.

She said: “I am passionate about delivering an excellent customer experience across all of TfL's varied and vital services and helping TfL and London to prosper.

“I look forward to meeting and working with all of the colleagues who work so hard every day to provide Londoners and millions of visitors with the seamless and reliable services that London is renowned for around the world.”