LONDON — Robert Kiley, the New Yorker hired to turn around London's struggling subway, was fired from the system's governing body Tuesday for opposing government plans to partly privatize the network.
Transportation Secretary Stephen Byers said Kiley had been removed as chairman and board member of the London Regional Transport, which oversees the London Underground.
The move raised the stakes in a long-running battle between Prime Minister Tony Blair's government and London Mayor Ken Livingstone, who favors full public ownership of the system.
Byers said Kiley had tried to use his board position to block negotiations with private firms bidding to run portions of the subway system.
Kiley, a former New York subway chief, was hired by Livingstone and assumed his post in January, charged with overhauling London's aging, cash-starved subway system.
The two have fought government plans for a public-private partnership that would carve up the system among private contractors. Livingstone has expressed fears about safety under the new arrangement, and Kiley has argued that he needs to have control of the whole system to deliver improvements.
Despite the disagreement, the government in May appointed Kiley chairman of London Regional Transport, responsible for leading negotiations on the contracts to run parts of the subway. On June 29, Kiley wrote to Blair reporting that he had been unable to reach an agreement with the bidders.
A spokesman for Blair said the government had to choose between Kiley "and moving ahead with our plans to modernize London Underground."