The head of a rail operator which took on the might of Virgin Trains to become one of the most profitable since privatisation is retiring.
Adrian Shooter, aged 63, has written a letter to the press to announce that he is ending his 18-year career as chairman of Chiltern Railways in December.
By then he will have transformed travel between Birmingham’s Snow Hill station and Marylebone in London after securing millions of pounds in investment to upgrade the route.
Chiltern beat off competition from larger operators to run services along the second route between the Midlands and the capital following the privatisation of British Rail in 1996.
Under Mr Shooter’s stewardship, the company has been regarded as one of the great success stories of deregulation by increasing capacity and slashing journey times.
Chiltern will launch a new mainline service in September which will mean commuters can reach London from Birmingham in just 90 minutes, rivalling Virgin’s speediest services between New Street and Euston.
Mr Shooter has also been chairman of the company’s owners DB Regio’s UK operation and also acted as managing director for Chiltern for three years until appointing Rob Brighouse in January.
In his letter he stated: “I have enjoyed every part of my 41 years in the rail industry but especially the opportunity to lead the teams who built Chiltern Railways.
“It is always difficult to decide when to move on but, having for the last three years also been acting MD of Chiltern, I have now handed that role to Rob Brighouse who I appointed earlier in the year.
"He will lead a very strong team to further successes, the first of which will be the new much faster Chiltern Mainline service between Birmingham and London.
“We will launch this together.”
Mr Shooter grew up as a childhood steam railway enthusiast and later worked as a carriage and wagon inspector before privatisation.
Along with five other former British Rail route managers, Mr Shooter formed a consortium which unexpectedly won the bid for the first eight-year franchise from 1996, despite strong competition from a host of more established rail operators.
Chiltern vowed to plough millions in to the route and was awarded a 20-year franchise in 2002 before being taken over by Laing Rail and later by German state-owned Deutsche Bahn.
Its Evergreen project saw track realigned and signals improved to allow trains to run faster.
The latest phase, Evergreen 3, is a £250 million joint venture led by Chiltern and involving the Department for Transport and Network Rail which will straighten the route so that services can hit speeds in excess of 100mph on long stretches.
Additional platforms have been allocated at Birmingham’s Moor Street station, which is managed by Chiltern.
The DfT hopes that the example set by Chiltern along with longer franchise agreements will become a blueprint for operators to invest in infrastructure in years to come.
Mr Shooter, who was awarded a CBE in 2009 for services to transport, will chair the West Midlands Council of the CBI during 2012 and 2013 and promised to play an active role in the rail industry.
He will also use his retirement to enjoy his 120-year-old 2ft-gauge steam powered railway which runs around the three-acre garden at his home near Bicester in Oxfordshire.