A rail boss slammed for kicking passengers on a busy train out of first class before spreading across two seats used to run a fish and chip shop, MailOnline can reveal.
Long before he came to public attention for the wrong reasons, Mark Boon, 48, owned the popular Mermaid Fish Bar in Finchley, north London.
Earlier this week, the operations manager for Southern Rail’s parent company Govia Thameslink faced the wrath of hot and bothered commuters when he was seen ushering people back into economy on a Southern Rail train to London Victoria.
A photo of Mr Boon posted by hairdresser Emma Fitzpatrick showing him using a first class seat for his bag and jacket went viral online, prompting further fury.
He hit back, saying that he was trying to guide passengers to seats elsewhere, but that didn’t stop thousands from sharing their outrage on Twitter following months of delays and strikes on the line.
Amid accusations of arrogance, MailOnline can disclose Mr Boon’s more modest background.
Rail boss Mark Boon, who was slammed for kicking passengers on a busy train out of first class before spreading across two seats (pictured above), used to run a fish and chip shop, MailOnline can reveal
MailOnline can reveal that he ran the Mermaid Fish Bar in North Finchley (above left) for four years between 2009 and 2013 and was popular locally
Mehrdad Kayedpour, who now runs the chip shop, described how he’d been well loved in the community when he’d run the popular chippy, originally established in 1932
Brought up in Merthyr Tydfil, south Wales, he worked for National Express and TfL before running and owning a ‘family catering business’, according to his Linkedin profile.
He ran the Mermaid Fish Bar for four years between 2009 and 2013.
Mehrdad Kayedpour, who now runs the chip shop, described how he’d been well loved in the community when he’d run the popular chippy, originally established in 1932.
He said: ‘He lived in the flat above the shop. I met him a couple of times when we took over the lease from him.
‘Customers came from all over, from as far afield as Camden, to have his fish and chips. This place was packed out on a Friday.
‘We still get people coming from miles away now. He was really well liked local businessman around here too.
‘But he suddenly vanished and no one knew where he went on to. We all thought he was working for London Underground.’
Mr Kayedpour said customers came from all over north London to have Mr Boon’s fish and chips
In an article for local newspaper The Archer in 2011, Mr Boon said his favourite part of running a north London family chip shop was ‘getting to know his customers’
In an article for local newspaper The Archer in 2011, Mr Boon said his favourite part of running a north London family chip shop was ‘getting to know his customers’.
His father and grandfather both worked in the same line of business in south Wales, the article said.
‘What I like about the business is that I’m my own boss and I can get to know the customers. We have a lot of local trade and customers come from as far as Mill Hill and Muswell Hill.
‘My parents were up visiting a few weeks ago and they’re very proud of what we’ve done here.’
The article was published after his shop was awarded five stars by the Food Standards Agency and he won the Frymax Gold Standard Award for food quality.
The furore over the train seats began when Ms Fitzpatrick, from Croydon, South London, said she joined the train mid-route before it terminated at London Victoria.
The 33-year-old said that Mr Boon had a ‘really awful manner’ as he ‘dismissively’ turned passengers away from approximately 10 empty first-class seats on the train.
Earlier this week, a photo of Mr Boon posted by hairdresser Emma Fitzpatrick showing him then taking up two seats in first class – including one for his bag and jacket – went viral online, prompting fury
Emma FitzPatrick tweeted this message with the photo after being shocked by his actions
She confronted him about his behaviour as the train pulled into London Victoria, telling him: ‘I can’t believe what you’ve done today. You should be hanging your head in shame.’
Ms Fitzpatrick claims Mr Boon handed his business card out to passengers as he turned them away.
Sharing the photo on Twitter, Emma wrote: ‘Totally shocked to see Govia Railway Head of Operations, Mark Boon, telling all commuters to stay out of an EMPTY First Class carriage on a LATE & very packed train this morning. Meanwhile he took up two seats in there.’
She continued: ‘It was a London bound Southern Train that arrived into London Victoria at approx 11.45am this morning.
‘I still can’t believe it. He even handed his business card out to the people that he was turning away! Talk about rubbing salt into commuters’ wounds.’
Describing her experience on the train, she added: ‘I saw First Class had just two men sat in there, so lots of spare seats – around eight or 10 available. So I started squeezing past those stood up, to go and sit in there.
‘But then a lady told me the man there – pointing at Mark Boon, had told her not to sit in there as she had gone to sit down.
‘I couldn’t believe it. Then she showed me the business card he had given her. I said, ‘You must be joking’, but another female passenger nodded and said he had said the same to her.’
Commuters on the line have experienced horrific conditions and delays in recent years
The franchise has been repeatedly criticised over the conditions on its trains. Pictured: 2017
Ms Fitzpatrick said she made her way to the first class compartment – where Mr Boon glanced at her and immediately told her the same thing.
‘He didn’t even ask if I had a First Class ticket – he just looked at me and assumed I didn’t,’ she said.
‘He told me the carriage was for First Class passengers only. I was so shocked.
‘I told him I was feeling a little unwell so I needed a seat, but he dismissively said to go and get some water or something, and looked back down at his phone.
‘I told him I would sit down on the arm of a chair, so as to keep the First Class seats free.
‘I was just blown away looking back at the men and women packed in down the train.’
Within 24 hours of sharing the photo, Emma’s Tweet had been shared hundreds of times – with outraged Twitter users sharing their disdain.
A Govia Thameslink spokesman said: ‘Passengers need a first class ticket to travel in first class and there were other people with first class tickets in this compartment.
‘This was an 11am off-peak service running just six minutes late and, while the front coaches were busy, there were seats and space in the rear coaches, as Mr Boon explained.’
Delays, cancellations and overcrowding led to commuters staging protests in 2016
GTR is among the train companies criticised over the chaos brought about by the introduction of a new timetable this year.
A third new train timetable in two months has been published by Thameslink as the firm attempt to tackle severe disruption.
Government officials have warned Govia – which operates Thameslink – that it could be stripped of the franchise if the new timetable does not quickly improve service for passengers.
How Govia trains repeatedly let down passengers on its routes
Govia, which is the biggest rail franchise in the UK, runs the beleaguered Thameslink and Great Northern services in the South.
These lines have been among the worst affected by the botched introduction of a new timetable across the railways on May 20 – with commuters across the south enduring thousands of delays and cancellations.
Earlier this month it stunned commuters by introducing an emergency timetable in which 165 services a day were axed from the schedule in an effort to reduce the number of last minute cancellations.
But commuters on Southern, which is also run by Govia, have endured a torrid service for much longer, with a wave of strike action causing havoc when it was kicked off just over two years ago.
In February, the firm was criticised after seats on its new trains were likened to ‘concrete’. Experts advised passengers to bring cushions to protect their backs.