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Sunday, 5 July 2009

The trainspotter now arriving in the UAE is the late golden boy

Richard Branson's right-hand man. One of Tony Blair's favourite mandarins. Saviour of Britain's crumbling 3,500 secondary-schools estate. FTSE 100 chief executive. Coveted by Boris Johnson as his deputy mayor.

That's quite a career for someone who is still only 43. And Richard Bowker is this weekend preparing to pack his bags for the United Arab Emirates (UAE), where he will oversee the £20bn construction of a 9,000km railway network.

Despite Bowker's enviable CV, the UAE is a place he was far more likely to find big-time employment than the UK. His reputation has been damaged by a poor tenure at National Express, the trains-to-buses transport giant, where he has been in charge since 2006. Bowker announced his departure last week amid a wave of depressing headlines for National Express shareholders. Rival FirstGroup had a preliminary all-paper approach dismissed, a move which seems to have some shareholder support.


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