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Keolis Downer announces major leadership changes

Keolis Group has announced huge leadership changes in its corporate structure when it comes to Keolis Downer

After five years spent leading transport operator Keolis Downer, David Franks has decided to move back to the UK, meaning he’ll be stepping down as CEO of Keolis Downer in early January 2023.

During his time at Keolis Downer, Franks has led the growth of the business, adding new operations into the Keolis Downer portfolio, with bus operations in Sydney and rail operations Adelaide. He has also developed a strategy to be Australia’s leading provider of zero-emissions transport and has built a strong team to ensure the ongoing success of the company.

Franks will still be leading the negotiations with the South Australian government over the future of the Metropolitan Rail Contract as well as working with Keolis Group pursuing development opportunities in Stockholm and Dublin.

Taking Franks’s place as CEO will be Julien Dehornoy, who will take over from Monday January 9, 2023.

After joining Keolis Downer Yarra Trams in 2019, Dehornoy was appointed Yarra Trams CEO in 2020 and led the team operating the world’s largest tram network during the challenging COVID-19 pandemic. With a strong focus on customer experience, supporting the local economy and sustainability, Dehornoy’s priority will be to grow Keolis Downer’s footprint while bringing innovative service to passengers and supporting the energy transition throughout Australia.

In addition to his extensive operational experience in Australia, Dehornoy brings 20 years’ experience working in rail and the public transport industry across three continents and the private and public sectors. In the past decade, he has worked as CEO of SNCF America and Chief of Staff to both the Chairman of SNCF and the French Minister for Transport Elisabeth Borne, who is today France’s Prime Minister.

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Carla Purcell, Yarra Trams’ current Chief Operating Officer, has been appointed Yarra Trams CEO and will commence in the role in early 2023 after returning from parental leave.

“I would like to thank David Franks for his leadership over the eventful past five years. Despite challenges like the health pandemic and the energy crisis, our Australian activities have flourished with the addition of emblematic networks including Adelaide’s commuter rail and a 400-strong bus network in Sydney, many of which will be converted to e-buses,” Keolis Group chairwoman and CEO Marie-Ange Debon says.

“Julien Dehornoy is the ideal profile to build on Keolis Downer’s momentum by bringing his operational experience at Melbourne’s iconic Yarra Trams network as well as his in-depth knowledge of the Australian mobility market. I have no doubt that Julien’s track record in mass transit in the public and private sectors in Australia, France and the United States will also prove invaluable in enhancing the passenger experience and accelerating the energy transition down under.” 

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