TUBE LINES boss Dean Finch found himself in demand yesterday, as struggling transport group National Express tried to secure his services as its next chief executive.<br /><br />But the tube maintenance group, which looks after the Jubilee, Northern and Piccadilly lines, is eager to hold on to Finch.<br /><br />“He will now be having talks with the shareholders and the board, who will try to convince him to stay,” a Tube Lines spokesperson said. “He is an obvious choice for National Express, of course, given his rail background, but we are keen for him to stick with us,” she added.<br /><br />Finch joined Tube Lines just six months ago from National Express’ rival First Group, where he was finance director.<br /><br />He now has a week to make a decision on whether to join National Express in a position widely known as the toughest in the industry – the company’s board is in a dispute with its largest shareholder over a rights issue – or to stay with Tube Lines. National Express has been looking for a chief executive to replace Richard Bowker for over five months, and is struggling to tackle a £1.1bn debt mountain. Bowker stood down on the same day the government stripped National Express of its East Coast Franchise because it couldn’t keep up with its payments to government to run the line.<br /><br />The Tube Lines has its own problems, however, after it admitted work on the Jubilee line would be months late at a cost of £10m.<br /><br />Finch, a chartered accountant, joined First Group in 1999, having spent 12 years at KPMG. At with the accountancy firm, he focused on transport, working for the Office of Passenger Rail Franchising on the privatisation of train operating companies. <br /><br />In 2001, Finch – a fan of hiking and gardening – became First Group’s rail division managing director.