Normally when a senior member of Boris’s team leaves, we respond with a mixture of ‘haha’ and ‘phew’.  Today we respond with ‘oh shit’.  Tim O’Toole, MD of London Underground and one of the best transport managers in the country, has decided his future lies away from leading the Underground through the next few decidedly challenging years.

A US citizen who was awarded an honorary CBE for his organisation’s response to the July 7 attacks, the reasons for his resignation were not clear last night, but it has been an open secret within City Hall that the Underground boss is keen to move back to the United States with his family.

I did pick up rumours that, as an American, he would at some point feel that he’d spent long enough out of the USA.  Also, with President Obama in the White House, the prospects for rail-based transit in the USA are brighter than they’ve been for a while, and that could be much more rewarding than trying to balance the demands of the failed PPP structure (which O’Toole always rightly opposed), the recession and Boris’s spending cuts, not to mention all the fun of working with Kulveer Ranger.

When it comes down to it we really don’t know why he’s gone.  All that’s certain is that Boris has lost one of the two people he needed to make a go of his transport policy, the other of course being Peter Hendy.  Fortunately we still have him, but for how long?  Who the hell does Boris get to run LUL?  Will Andrew Gilligan be satisfied with the appointment and consequent salary?  All this and much more to come, one suspects.

Best of luck, Tim, and thank you.

Update – the Times has more, and suggests it was more sudden and a bit less orderly than the PR suggests.

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