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from Neil Collins:

East Coast rail franchise crashes: Bowker unhurt

Richard Bowker is a man who appears entirely untroubled by self-doubt. Even as he was scrambling clear of the financial train-wreck that is today's National Express, he smoothly explained that he's been in talks for weeks lining up his next destination, running trains for the United Arab Emirates.

His CV looks like a parody of the dynamic young executive, never in the same place for long enough for the results of his decisions to become apparent.  He was not even 30 when he became head of London Underground's Private Finance Initiative unit, and we can see since what a fiasco that's since become.

A couple of years in the Branson empire, somewhere which seemed eminently suited to his talent to talk a good game, and he was headhunted, age 39, to be chairman and chief executive of the all-new Strategic Rail Authority quango. Its main function was to award rail franchises, but when Alistair Darling, then Transport Secretary, announced its mercy killing after the demise of Railtrack, Bowker was quickly on to his next venture.

Demonstrating his obvious polymath qualities, he became chief executive of Partnership for Schools, another quango, described on its website as being "responsible for delivering the government's scondary school renewal programme".

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