HS2 appoints new CEO as legislation continues along the track
Mark Thurston has been appointed as the new Chief Executive of HS2. It comes in the week when the High Speed Rail (London – West Midlands) Bill passed its Report Stage in the House of Lords. It will have its Third Reading by Peers next Tuesday, the final chance to amend the Bill.
HS2 Ltd now has just under 400 permanent employees based in Birmingham, representing 41% of its permanent workforce. HS2 Ltd is currently advertising and recruiting a further 34 new permanent positions to be based in the Snow Hill Offices. Answering a parliamentary question from Liam Byrne (Lab, Birmingham Hodge Hill) this week, Transport Minister Andrew Jones said that the number of staff based in Birmingham will increase in the coming months as HS2 Ltd continues to recruit for roles that relocate from London.
Mark Thurston began his career in the rail industry over 30 years ago as an apprentice with Transport for London (TfL), before fulfilling a series of roles with The Nichols Group, Metronet, and working for CH2M since 2008, on the London 2012 Olympics and Crossrail, where he was lead for the Programme Partner joint venture for three years. He is currently the regional managing director overseeing CH2M’s European operations, which includes those in the UK.
His appointment comes after a five month “global search” led by Heidrick and Struggles, which reviewed some 20 potential candidates working on projects in America, Australia and Asia, as well as in the UK. The previous CEO Simon Kirby to take up a senior role with Rolls Royce.
The Chairman of HS2, David Higgins, said:
Mark not only knows the UK rail industry from the bottom up, but has worked for organisations operating at the highest level globally. His grasp of how to manage the transition from page to reality makes him not only the right person to take over at HS2 as we are on the verge of Royal Assent, but also to see it through the years leading up to the first train being commissioned.
The challenge is huge in terms of the task and timescale, but the Board believes Mark has the knowledge, experience and leadership qualities to deliver the project within the budget we have been given and to do so in a way that recognises our responsibility both to Parliament and the communities in which we will be operating.
Mr Thurston will start with HS2 “in the spring”, once he has “transitioned” his leadership responsibilities at CH2M.
On being appointed, Mark Mr Thurston said:
HS2 is arguably the most important investment in infrastructure in the UK for a generation, which will serve businesses and communities across much of the country. I am looking forward to leading the HS2 team and its partners to deliver a railway that will transform connectivity between our major cities and regions.
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