Key HS2 appointment as construction phase chief executive brought in

HS2 has raided Network Rail to bring in Simon Kirby as chief executive for the high-speed rail project’s construction phase.

Kirby, who was managing director of infrastructure projects at Network Rail, will lead on the £5bn a year investment programme.

HS2 will link Birmingham and London via 225mph trains from 2026 and extend to Leeds and Manchester six years later. Construction work is due to start in 2016 although new HS2 chairman David Higgins is keen to speed up delivery of the project.

Higgins, said: “I am extremely pleased that we have secured Simon to run what will be the biggest infrastructure project in Europe, and one of the biggest in the world.

“Delivering this project in a way which is not just cost-effective, but also delivers its benefits to as much of the country as soon as possible, is a huge engineering project, but Simon has proven throughout his career that he is capable of taking on such a unique challenge.

“I fully realise that the skills he brings to the task are much sought after throughout the world and we are delighted he has agreed to take on the role.”

In his ten years at Network Rail, Kirby oversaw a £25bn investment programme, including landmark schemes such as the transformation of King’s Cross in London.

It has also been confirmed that HS2’s current chief executive, Alison Munro, will continue in that role until September when she will become managing director of development to oversee the passage of the hybrid Bill through parliament and the development of phase two of the project.