So farewell then, Peter Hendy

The NewsSimon FellComment

London's Transport Commissioner announced yesterday that he is to leave his post to take the top post at Network Rail.

It was no coincidence whatsoever that earlier the same day, the Transport Secretary reported on the woeful performance of Network Rail, resulting in shelving of several key improvement programmes.

Sir Peter has been an excellent Transport Commissioner, overseeing a major investment programme in London including Tube upgrades, 'Boris bikes', cycle superhighways and Crossrail, as well as managing the transport programme for the Olympic Games. He's also a political survivor, serving under both Ken and Boris. Not at all bad for a fellow who joined TfL as a graduate trainee and began his career driving a Routemaster.

To say that his new role will be a challenge is something of an understatement. But his straight-talking about the service on some train franchises suggests that he will take no prisoners in his new role. From The Guardian's profile on him:

[Hendy] made it plain he thinks there is a “big philosophical difference” between how he runs TfL and how the mainline suburban rail services treat their customers.

“If you make a mistake on your Oyster card on the tube, we’ll refund it. On South West Trains, they’ll fine you.”

The Mayor has made it clear that he sees Sir Peter's appointment as an opportunity, allowing City Hall to win more power over rail franchises.

Sir Peter's interim replacement, Mike Brown, who is current MD of rail, is seen as the likeliest contender to take the Commissioner job and is well liked by City Hall. But, as LondonReconnections makes clear, who is chosen will be a strong indicator as to whether TfL sees delivery or politics as the most pressing challenge for the organisation in the future.

We wish Sir Peter well.