Stewart Palmer was photographed at Weymouth when South West Trains improved the frequency of trains to Waterloo in 2007. Under the new timetable, London-bound trains departed Weymouth at 03 and 20 minutes past the hour, as they still did in 2014. Picture: TheRailwayCentre.com
When Stewart Palmer retired from the railway, he said: "I am enormously proud of the railway that I am leaving behind, the excellent people I have worked with and the improvements that we have achieved together. I wish them every success."
Mr Palmer graduated from Exeter University with a degree in geography in 1972.
He joined the British Rail management training scheme in 1972 and was allocated to the South Western division of the Southern Region.
He worked in a variety of operations jobs on the Southern, Eastern and London Midland Regions before becoming area manager Gloucester in 1984.
After a spell in Western Region headquarters in Swindon, he moved back to the Southern as area manager London Bridge in 1988, and in 1994 became one of the project managers in the region dealing with rail privatisation.
In 1995 he joined Railtrack with responsibilities for setting up and managing the contracts which Railtrack had with various suppliers in the rail industry.
While at Railtrack he became responsible for the management of Railtrack’s very extensive fleet of specialised rail vehicles. He was also for a period professional head of operations for Railtrack, responsible for high level safety policy in operations matters.
In 1998 he went to work for Connex as operations director South Central and with a reorganisation became responsible for train performance for both Connex franchises.
In 2000 he became operations director South West Trains and played a key role from turning it round from a poorly performing company, to one with excellent punctuality and reliability.
He became managing director of South West Trains in 2006 and retired from that role in 2009.
Since retirement he is involved in various railway charity works as well as
providing help and advice on a “pro bono” basis to various organisations who want assistance on rail-related subjects.
He initially became a Railfuture Vice President. In 2015 he stood for election to the Railfuture Board of Directors and took office in May 2015, during which time he played a liaison role with fellow Vice-Presidents engaging as judges in Railfuture's annual Awards for Rail User Groups (the RUG Awards). He did not stand for re-election in 2023.