Pete Tomlin

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Pete Tomlin
United Kingdom[1]
Occupation electrical engineer[1]
Known for Has worked on upgrading the signals system of four major subway systems[1]

Pete Tomlin is an expert in transit signalling systems, who was employed by both the Toronto Transit Commission, the New York City Transit Authority, Hong Kong and the London Underground.[2][3]

Tomlin was responsible for installing the signal system on London's Jubilee line, in 1997, and the West Rail and Ma On Shan subway lines in Hong Kong, before coming to Toronto to upgrade the signal system on the Yonge-University Line.[1][4]

Andy Byford, who became the General Manager of New York's MTA, after five years as General Manager of the TTC, in 2017, would hire Tomlin, who had worked under him in Toronto, in January 2019.[5][4] Byford described his hiring of Tomlin as a "coup", because multiple other systems had also wanted to hire him. According to the New York Daily News it was his expertise in upgrading the signal infrastructure subways use that put him in demand. Many major cities share the problem of their most used lines approaching, or occasionally exceeding, their maximum passenger carrying capacity. Improving the signals system, so trains can run closer together, thus more frequently, can increase a subway line's passenger capacity, postponing the day they needed to be supplemented by new parallel lines.

Tomlin was hired during the middle of a hiring freeze.[6]

According to The Globe and Mail Tomlin had overseen modernization of the signal systems of both London and Hong Kong's subway systems, prior to coming to Toronto, Ontario.[3]

In describing the challenge of gradually replacing a subway line's signals system, while it is still in use, Tomlin said “A colleague of mine once described it like … conducting open-heart surgery on a 100-year-old person while he’s eating his lunch.”[4]

Byford had repeatedly clashed with Governor Andrew Cuomo, and finally resigned, on January 15, 2020. Tomlin resigned nine days later, on January 24, 2020.[7][8]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 William C. Vantuono. Tomlin joins Byford at NYCT, Railway Age magazine, 2018-12-07. Retrieved on 2020-01-28. “A native Briton, he brings more than 21 years of international experience in the complex discipline of upgrading signal systems on new and existing subway systems, most recently in Toronto but before that in London and Hong Kong.”
  2. Dan Rivoli. World-renowned subway signal guru hired to speed up NYC's trains, New York Daily News, 2019-02-04. Retrieved on 2020-01-28. “Tomlin, whose transit talents have taken him from London to Hong Kong to Toronto, heads up a project to rewire 11 subway lines over the next decade under NYC Transit chief Andy Byford’s Fast Forward plan.”
  3. 3.0 3.1 Oliver Moore. Signals from the future: How the TTC’s subway auto-pilot will streamline your commute, Globe and Mail, 2017-06-02. Retrieved on 2020-01-28. “The new system is “like autopilot on an aircraft,” said project manager Pete Tomlin, a veteran of similar signal upgrade jobs in London and Hong Kong.”
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Vincent Barone. MTA signal chief Pete Tomlin has ‘difficult’ task of overhauling century-old system, AM New York, 2019-02-05. Retrieved on 2020-01-28. “Tomlin has worked with Byford previously and, like his new boss, has bounced around from transit agencies across the world. He’s overseen CBTC installations in London and Hong Kong before most recently leading the ongoing effort to resignal the Toronto Transit Commission’s Line 1.”
  5. Mischa Wanek-Libman. NYCT brings international signaling expert Pete Tomlin on board, Mass Transit magazine, 2018-12-10. Retrieved on 2020-01-28. “MTA noted that Tomlin’s particular area of expertise is the installation, testing and commissioning of communications-based train control (CBTC), a modern signal system that delivers high levels of service reliability and additional line capacity that anchors the subway element of Byford’s Fast Forward modernization plan. Once funding is secured, Fast Forward will convert 11 NYC subway lines to CBTC in an unprecedented 10 years and MTA said it was for this reason that Byford sought world expertise to drive the resignaling program.”
  6. Alice Gainer. Meet The Signal Expert With The Plan To Fix NYC’s Failing Subway System, CBS News, 2019-02-11. Retrieved on 2020-01-28. “Described by the MTA as an internationally renowned signaling expert, he has worked on the systems in Hong Kong, London, and Toronto.”
  7. Clayton Guse. NY: Another subway honcho follows NYC Transit chief Andy Byford out the door, Mass Transit magazine, 2020-01-27. Retrieved on 2020-01-28.
  8. Christina Goldbaum. New York’s Subway Boss Quit: Will Your Commute Get Worse?, The New York Times, 2020-01-24, p. A20. Retrieved on 2020-01-28. “On Friday, Pete Tomlin, an expert on signals who worked with Mr. Byford in London, resigned from the M.T.A., raising concerns about the signal modernization effort. But Mr. Lieber had already taken on much of that responsibility as part of a reorganization plan embraced by Mr. Cuomo.”