New Keolis general manager left embattled UK rail line
By Nicole Dungca
Globe Staff

The MBTA’s commuter rail operator, Keolis, has named David Scorey, a former railroad executive from the United Kingdom, as its new general manager, according to Keolis officials.

Scorey was hired by Keolis North America as a vice president earlier this year after serving as managing director of Southern Railway, a company that at least one media report has called “Britain’s worst railway service.’’ As recently as January, a member of Parliament had asked if the government could withdraw its contract from Southern Railway, according to the BBC.

Amid the criticism of the company’s lackluster performance, Scorey, who started as a chief mechanical officer for Southern Railway in 2004, left for Keolis’s North American arm. While at Keolis, he began working on various projects for its Boston service, including a plan to install fare gates at South Station, North Station, and the Back Bay stop.

Leslie Aun, a Keolis spokeswoman, praised Scorey. He excelled during a difficult time for Southern Railways, when a major railroad renovation project by the government partially shut down one of the service’s main stations, which had a “devastating impact on Southern’s on-time performance’’ and was out of his control, she said.

“Against this extremely challenging backdrop, David consistently delivered strong results in safety, on-time performance, and customer satisfaction during his tenure, earning him respect of his colleagues, employees, peers, as well as government leaders,’’ she wrote in a statement.

Brian Shortsleeve, acting general manager of the T, also lauded Scorey, saying in a statement that he brings a “strong background in mechanics and a deep knowledge of rail systems to the table.’’

Scorey, who starts his new position on Tuesday, will replace Gerald Francis. Francis will become president of the local operation and vice president of passenger rail service at its larger corporate office.

Aun said the change has long been in the works, as Francis prepared to take on a bigger role at the North American arm of Keolis, the private sector transit group that is subsidized by the French national railroad. The operating contract with the ­MBTA is also Keolis’s largest and most important contract in North America.

Francis replaced Thomas Mulligan in February 2015, after the commuter rail was incapacitated by record-breaking snowstorms. MBTA officials at the time criticized Mulligan for lack of leadership, and the commuter rail took longer to recover than all the other T services.

While Keolis has improved its on-time rates from its dreadful performance in 2015, the company has been losing millions of dollars each year for its parent company. Recently, the T announced a series of changes to its deal with Keolis that would give the money-losing company at least $66 million more over six years to add more trains and take better care of its equipment.

Scorey will oversee the agency as it continues to pursue plans that could place more fare gates at its stations to improve fare collection, and enters negotiations with its unions, whose contracts expired this summer.

Nicole Dungca can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @ndungca.