Abdellah Chajai named CEO of Keolis Commuter Services

Dec. 16, 2021
Chajai will oversee operations of MBTA’s commuter rail services as part of Keolis’ contract with the authority.

Abdellah Chajai has been named as CEO of Keolis Commuter Services following consultation with Keolis Group and the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA). Keolis has operated and maintained MBTA’s commuter rail system since July 2014.

“Commuter Rail is a critical component of the MBTA’s transportation network and it will be key to our region’s economic recovery as we emerge from the pandemic. We look forward to working with Mr. Chajai and benefiting from his global experience in the railroad industry,’’ said Steve Poftak, MBTA general manager.

MBTA commuter rail serves 140 stations in dozens of municipalities in eastern Massachusetts and represents a key market among Keolis’ North American operations. Keolis Commuter Services is one of the largest private employers in the Boston area, with more than 2,400 employees.

Chajai, who speaks six languages and is a native of France, has spent more than 25 years in the industry and transportation sector. He previously served as CEO of Keolis Amey Docklands (KAD), which operates a key part of the London transportation network under contract to Transport for London and has achieved both growth and customer accolades under his leadership. In 2020, KAD won the prestigious ‘Passenger Operator of the Year’ award at the UK’s National Rail Awards.

“We could not be more pleased that Mr. Chajai will be leading our team in Boston and I am certain that the riders of the MBTA Commuter Rail will soon share in that sentiment. Abdellah is a proven leader who has grown and transformed the transportation systems previously under his direction, while always maintaining safety as the top priority,’’ said David Scorey, president and CEO of Keolis North America.

Chajai has relocated from London and will assume the full duties of CEO in the New Year, after a brief transition with the support of acting CEO John Killeen. As part of the search, MBTA personnel were involved in the process and approved the appointment of Chajai.

“I am excited to come to a world-class city and join a great rail system that is important to the quality of life for so many people,’’ said Chajai. “Rail has always been about connecting people with each other and with economic opportunities and going forward it will also be a powerful force for climate resiliency in the face of global warming and for economic recovery as we emerge from the pandemic. Of course, the safety of our passengers and employees is my top priority and the guiding star of all that we do.’’

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