Joey Gardiner sifts the tea leaves after recent senior rail industry moves

The last couple of weeks have seen interesting goings on for those scanning the political tea leaves for indications of who will be the next boss of the UK’s biggest construction project, Crossrail.

Since current chief executive Rob Holden announced in January he will leave the project in the summer, speculation has been rife over who will take his position.

Just before last weekend’s Royal wedding bonanza, HS1, the body which has won the contract to run the channel tunnel rail link (built originally by Holden when he was chief executive of London and Continental Railways), announced he has been appointed chair.

If things go according to his plan, it’ll be the first of a number of such appointments for Holden, who is looking to build up a portfolio of non-exec jobs – and is likely to be in high demand given his successful track record at LCR and Crossrail.

Two candidates currently stand out amongst the likely candidates to succeed him. One is Andy Mitchell, Holden’s personable and widely respected second in command at Crossrail, who has admitted he is in the running for the job.

Two candidates currently stand out among the like candidates to succeed him: Andy Mitchell and Mark Bayley

The other is Mark Bayley, who until two weeks ago was chief executive of LCR. He had been Holden’s finance director there, and had assumed control in 2009 after Holden left for Crossrail. But, in a move that may prove significant, he left LCR on April 19 as part of a reshuffle of that company which was related to LCR’s forced sale of the channel tunnel rail link business to HS1.

LCR will now focus on its property portfolio, and will be run by its former property director, David Joy and a new chair, former development corporation boss Lorraine Baldry. Others including company secretary Chris Hamill, and finance director Simon Phillips will also depart.

All of which leaves Bayley, another well-respected figure, the freedom to start at Crossrail immediately should he be required. If his departure from LCR is part of some pre-ordained move to Crossrail, then the body’s not saying. “The recruitment process is ongoing” is all Crossrail will currently say, with the decision due to be made by Crossrail chair Terry Morgan and the board in due course.

At the very least, Bayley potentially has time on his hands now in which to hone any application. We await the final outcome with interest…