Page last updated at 10:38 GMT, Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Tube boss O'Toole to step down

Tim O'Toole
Tim O'Toole says the team is in place to transform the Tube

The man who runs London's Tube system has announced that he is stepping down after six years as managing director.

Tim O'Toole, 53, an American lawyer who previously ran the Philadelphia railway company, plans to return to home.

Transport for London (TfL) sources said Mr O'Toole's decision was a personal one, as he had maintained a home in America throughout his time in London.

Mayor Boris Johnson said Mr O'Toole was a "magnificent public servant" and he "fully understands" his wish to return.

Mr O'Toole was given an honorary CBE after the 7 July bombings on the city's transport system.

'Huge blow'

In an interview with BBC London, Mr O'Toole said he would be very sorry to leave the city.

"It is going to be a wrench," he said of the move. "London is the centre of the universe and leaving here is going to be painful."

Mr O'Toole said his departure was in no way related to London politics or Mayor Boris Johnson.

"From the very first Boris has been very supportive of projects that have been close to my heart," he said of their working relationship.

Mr O'Toole said the plans and the necessary teams were in place to provide Londoners with the upgrades that the system needs ahead of the 2012 Olympics.

Last month, he told a parliamentary committee that despite every effort to address security, the London Underground would always be on the radar for terrorists owing to its "iconic" status.

A London Underground train attacked on 7 July
Mr O'Toole received an honorary CBE after the 7 July attacks

Reacting to his decision to leave Mr Johnson said: "I fully understand Tim's desire to return home after six years serving London.

"Tim has been a magnificent public servant and we will build on the fantastic legacy he leaves in the years ahead."

Former mayor Ken Livingstone, who brought Mr O'Toole in to manage the Tube network, said he would be "sorely missed".

"His steely nerves took us through the worst moments of the terrorist attacks on London when London Underground staff saved many, many lives.

"Then he got London moving again within hours - showing we will never give in to those who seek to murder us."

Val Shawcross, Labour's transport spokesperson on the London Assembly, said: "His departure is a huge blow to London's Tube upgrade programme in preparation for the Olympics and a catastrophe for Boris Johnson's administration."

Bob Crow, general secretary of the Rail Maritime and Transport union, said: "More important than who succeeds Tim O'Toole is the need to scrap attacks on jobs, ditch what is left of the public private partnership (PPP) and get the Tube's upgrade back on track in time for 2012."

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