New chief named for HS2 rail scheme
The under-fire £50 billion HS2 high-speed rail project is to get a new chairman in the new year - at an annual salary of £591,000.
The new boss of HS2 Ltd is Network Rail's current chief executive Sir David Higgins who was also former chief executive of the UK's Olympic Delivery Authority.
Australian Sir David is taking over as HS2 Ltd chairman from Doug Oakervee who announced that he will be standing down at the end of the year.
Sir David, who had already announced he would be leaving Network Rail (NR), will join HS2 Ltd on a one-day-a-week basis on January 1 2014, when he will be entitled to receive pay of £950 a day. He will take up the post full-time from March 2014 when he will be on an annual salary of £591,000 - which is his exact pay at NR now.
However, it is understood that Sir David will only work full time for six months before taking a three-days-a-week role. He takes over at HS2 Ltd, the body tasked with developing the HS2 project, at a time when the scheme's value, and need, has been questioned by Labour and others.
Sir David was widely praised for his role in the London Olympics and commentators feel that he has done a good job at NR.
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: "The fantastic work that Doug Oakervee has delivered as chairman of HS2 Ltd is testament to the experience and expertise that he brought to this role.
"His energy and professionalism have ensured that the detailed proposals for phase 1 (from London to Birmingham) of the country's first high-speed line north of London will be introduced to Parliament on schedule later this year."
Mr McLoughlin went on: "The appointment of Sir David Higgins to replace Doug Oakervee ensures that we will continue to have leaders at the heart of HS2 who have a track record of delivery.
"His experience at both NR and as chief executive of the Olympic Delivery Authority - where he oversaw construction of the magnificent Olympic Park, a legacy which will be enjoyed by generations - will be essential to ensure we deliver HS2 on time and on budget."