Finance chief promoted to steer Great Rail Journeys

A change at the top of Great Rail Journeys has seen finance chief Dave Riley take over the reins from outgoing chief executive Peter Liney.

The York-based escorted tour and river cruise specialist revealed that the transition had been planned for some time and Riley’s appointment followed a “rigorous” selection process.

Liney, who led expansion into the US, is stepping down after nine years.

Riley has been charged with driving an ambitious global growth agenda for the company, which also incorporates Chicago-based Vacations By Rail.

He joined the firm in 2018, adding operations to his responsibilities as group chief finance officer in 2021.

Great Rail Journeys chairman Charles Gurassa, a former Tui, British Airways and easyJet senior executive, said: “Dave has proven to be an outstanding leader since joining the business and his experience both with the company and in private equity made him the standout candidate.

“He brings deep financial, digital marketing and operational expertise to the role and under his guidance Great Rail Journeys has an exciting future ahead.”

Gurassa added: “I would like to place on record the board’s and my personal thanks to Peter. He has successfully led the business for nine years, spearheading its expansion into the USA and Australia, broadening our offering into river cruising and steering the company through the challenges of the global pandemic. We wish him every success in his next endeavours.”

Liney, a former managing director of Travelbag, chief executive of STA Travel and head of BA leisure sales, said: “Having worked in the travel industry for over 30 years, it has been a privilege to have been CEO of Great Rail Journeys and more recently Vacations by Rail.

“I am leaving the team in good hands, and for me personally, I’m looking forward to new challenges and leveraging my expertise, not just in travel but also in family and private equity businesses.”

Riley added: “With Great Rail Journeys celebrating its 50th year in 2023, I am excited to be taking the helm as we enter a new phase of growth, delivering great experiences to our customers.

“The Great Rail Journeys family is already close to my heart, having worked in the business for over four years and – of course – being a Yorkshireman, I am proud to become CEO of a company that has made this region its home.

“I feel very fortunate to have worked so closely with Peter over the past four years and my thanks to him for all the support and guidance he’s given me. I’m excited to be leading the team on its journey ahead.”

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