He will oversee 2,500 stations nationwide as well as tracks, tunnels and level crossings — and take on the biggest programme of upgrades since the Victorian era.
The appointment of Sir Peter, pictured, boosts the prospect of City Hall winning more control over suburban rail routes. London Underground boss Mike Brown will step into his shoes as interim Transport for London Commissioner but is widely ex- pected to get the post permanently.
Mayor Boris Johnson, who worked closely with the Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin on the appointment, said Sir Peter will help deliver projects of “colossal importance” to the UK economy, including Crossrail 2.
Mr Johnson is understood to be confident his departing transport chief’s role as NR chairman, which he begins next month, will see London win more power over rail franchises.
A source close to the Mayor said: “Peter brings an agenda and practices honed in London to the UK rail network.
“That experience will be vital in driving improvements across the UK and in making the case for greater devolution of rail services within London, something the Mayor has long called for.” The Mayor’s plan, which has cross-party support, promises cleaner stations, more regular services and reduced bills for taxpayers.
But commuters from outside the M25 have raised fears their routes will lose priority status if TfL takes over the core services, while Department for Transport officials have expressed doubts.
Mr Johnson said: “Under Sir Peter’s leadership, the international reputation of London transport is higher than ever. It is quite right those skills should be deployed on the national stage.
“I look forward to continuing to work closely with him on many projects of colossal importance for London and the UK economy — Crossrail 2, rail devolution and many others.”
Sir Peter has overseen a major investment programme in London, including Crossrail, Tube upgrades and cycle superhighways, as well as moving millions of people around the city during the Olympics with barely a glitch.
He began his career almost 40 years ago as a London Transport graduate trainee, being taught how to drive a Routemaster bus and work as a conductor. He has a reputation as a great political survivor, taking on his role as TfL Commissioner under Labour mayor Ken Livingstone in 2006 then winning the confidence of his Tory successor.
But he has also suffered reports of largesse — both for paying huge sums to senior executives and his own expenses receipts — as well as an embarrassing row over a fling with an escort girl. His salary of £331,362 has been frozen for the past six years but he has received huge six-figure bonuses, which TfL has always defended.
His new role will not be easy. Some of NR’s biggest, most vital modernisation projects are expected to be cut or scaled back as concerns over its ability to deliver have reached crisis point.
Dramatic cost over-runs on improvements, such as the electrification of the Great Western line, have put the viability of other projects in doubt.
A report by the Office for Rail and Road Regulation this month found that NR, which has an annual turnover of £6 billion, missed more than a third of targets after the £12.5 billion modernisation programme began last year.
Sir Peter said: “Network Rail has a critical role in the railway industry and the UK economy, by facilitating economic growth and enabling job creation.
“I am delighted to be asked to chair the board and help it, the executive team and the whole organisation fulfil Network Rail’s full potential. I look forward to working with chief executive Mark Carne as he takes the organisation forward.”
In a message to TfL staff, Sir Peter said: “It has been an enormous privilege to lead this organisation and have the support of its hugely talented staff, and those of its contractors.
“The success of what we do and the regard in which TfL is now held — in London, the UK and the world — are testimony not to my leadership but to the efforts of every one of the people who both work here and for us.”
Mr Brown, who has overseen a huge reduction in Tube delays, has im- pressed City Hall by his leadership.
Source: London Evening Standard