Tricia, who is currently Northern’s chief operating officer, will take over from Nick Donovan when he steps down from his role in spring 2024.
Nick joined Northern in March 2020 when the business moved into public ownership under DOHL and will have spent four years in charge.
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Tricia said: “After three great years as chief operating officer, it’s an absolute honour to be taking on the managing director role.
“Nick has set the standard – not only for driving this business forward but the standard for truly supportive and inclusive leadership.
“We know we still have big challenges ahead of us. Nick will leave us in a strong position, and the team and I are ready to continue the great work he has started.”
Nick Donovan said: “It is a huge privilege to have had the opportunity to lead Northern – a real highlight of my career – and now feels like the right time to hand over to someone else.
“We have a brilliant leadership team in place and I’m so pleased that our current chief operating officer will take over from me in the spring.
“Tricia is a fantastic leader and I know she’ll continue to transform this business, making a positive impact for the customers and communities we serve.”
Under his leadership, Northern has been recognised by YouGov as one of the UK’s top ten most improved brands for two years running.
The train operator has picked up accreditations and awards for improvements across the business, including Investors in People Gold.
Robin Gisby, chief executive of DOHL and chair of the Northern Trains Board said: “I want to thank Nick for the incredible work he’s done to rebuild trust in Northern and get things back on track.
“We asked him to come for two years – and he took very little persuasion to stay for two more. I’m delighted that we have a talented successor in Tricia Williams and the Board looks forward to giving her every support.”
Northern will shortly begin recruitment for a new chief operating officer to replace Tricia Williams.
Northern is the second largest train operator in the UK, with 2,500 services a day to more than 500 stations across the North of England.