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Last Updated: Friday, 3 February 2006, 09:22 GMT
London: Transport in the limelight
Tim Donovan
Tim Donovan
Political Editor BBC London

Peter Hendy
Peter Hendy - London Transport Commissioner

It is the biggest hands-on job in transport, and a new man is in charge. Peter Hendy became London's new Transport Commissioner on 1 February 2006.

He takes over from the American, Bob Kiley.

The network he oversees is enormous and complex. The Tube alone accounts for half the total train journeys made in the UK.

There are 600 underground trains running over 250 miles. More than 8,000 buses carry 6m passengers each day.

The Commissioner also regulates London's taxis, and controls its main roads and traffic lights.

But he does not manage the overground railways and that could be a key issue over the next few years.

He believes the national rail network is key to easing transport problems in the capital.

"In my view the largest piece of transport in London with underexploited capacity is the rail network.", he said.

Transport for London has a 5bn annual budget and it has been given been given unprecedented powers by government to borrow 3bn over the next five years.

The money would be invested in major projects like extending the Docklands Light Railway and completing the East London line.

Peter Hendy himself made a fortune from bus privatisation, but moved back to the public sector in 2001 accepting a job as London's director of surface transport.

He put 1500 more buses on the streets, and he helped sort out problems with the congestion charge.

He now has the challenge of extending the scheme westwards.

But much bigger will be the task of improving the Tube - the last few years have been plagued by difficulties with the private consortia locked into contracts to upgrade the network.

He has the opportunity to re-negotiate these contracts next year, and to try and get a better deal for Londoners.

And hanging over everything he does are the Olympics - he has to put in place a raft of improvements to the transport system in time for the games only six years away.

We bring you the first in-depth broadcast interview with new Transport Commissioner Peter Hendy who started his job on Wednesday 1 February 2006.

Zia Trench reports on what is making Londoners hot under the collar on the tubes, buses and trains, looking at issues of fare increases, overcrowding, safety, subsidy from the government and Oyster Cards on national trains.

The Politics Show London

Join the Politics Show on BBC One on Sunday 12 February 2006 at 11.55am with Tim Donovan.

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