Bernadette Kelly has been appointed director general of the Department for Transport's (DfT) Rail Executive.
Ms Kelly is the current director general for business and local growth at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).
She will join DfT in late September, when she takes over from Clare Moriarty who was recently promoted to become the permanent secretary at Defra.
DfT’s permanent secretary Philip Rutnam said: 'Bernadette will bring to the department fantastic breadth and depth of experience and great expertise in creating strong partnerships.
'She is joining the department at a key time when what we deliver will make a huge difference to people’s lives. She is taking a great job – it will be challenging and fast paced, but also extremely rewarding, improving daily travel and helping to create and sustain jobs and skills for the future. She will be working with a great team and building on strong foundations.'
Ms Kelly said: 'There are clearly big challenges ahead for the rail industry in the UK and I’m looking forward to working with the sector and my team to deliver a great train service for the public and help grow the economy.'
Ahead of her arrival, Brian Etheridge will continue to act as director general on an interim basis.