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News » UK » Higgins takes Kirby with him to HS2 » published 17 Jan 2014

Higgins takes Kirby with him to HS2

HS2 Ltd has recruited Network Rail's Simon Kirby to be its next chief executive.

Simon Kirby Above: Simon Kirby

He joins in June from Network Rail where he was managing director for infrastructure projects, in charge of a £5bn-a-year investment programme. He will be paid £750,000 a year, which is more than five times what a Cabinet minister gets (before expenses).

He will start as construction chief before taking over as CEO in September from Alison Munro, who will move to become managing director of development, overseeing the passage of the hybrid Bill through parliament and the development of Phase Two of the project.

HS2 chairman Sir David Higgins, who himself only started this month and also joined from Network Rail, said: "As I start my tenure as chairman of this essential project that will free up much needed capacity on our crowded railways, 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 – and that Alison Munro has agreed  to continue in her role of over-seeing both the parliamentary process and the development of Phase Two.

“HS2 has the potential to rebalance the UK economy, easing pressure in the south, and opening up the possibility of growth in the north. We are fortunate to be able to call on the skills and commitment of both Simon and Alison to make that potential a reality."

In his 10 years at Network Rail, Mr Kirby has overseen projects including the £550m refurbishment and renovation of King's Cross, an £895m improvement scheme at Reading, the £130m 10-year refurbishment of the Forth River Bridge and the first phase of the £6.5bn Thameslink project with new stations at Blackfriars and Farringdon.

The Civil Engineering Contractors Association welcomed his appointment.  CECA director of external affairs Alasdair Reisner said: “Simon’s appointment is thoroughly deserved. He will bring a wealth of industry experience to this crucial role in delivering Britain’s biggest infrastructure project to date.

“His success at Network Rail is evident in the record levels of investment made under his watch, and we believe he is the ideal candidate for what will be a vital role in delivering the biggest rail project of its kind in Europe.”

Meanwhile, Network Rail is left searching for a replacement. Its chairman, Richard Parry-Jones, said: "Simon has been extremely successful in his 10 years with the company, delivering a large range of landmark projects all across the country. He leaves behind him a strong organisation that enjoys excellent relationships with our supply chain partners. We are very grateful for everything he has contributed and wish him the very best in his new role at HS2. Going forward the two organisations will be working closely together and Simon's appointment will only serve to reinforce that.

"Network Rail's £24bn of projects planned for the next five years continues the biggest sustained investment programme our railways have seen since the Victorian era to maintain the very highest safety standards, improve customer satisfaction, increase capacity by a third into our major regional cities and improve our operational efficiency to maximise value for taxpayers and rail users alike.

"This programme has already seen over £20bn invested since 2009. The scale, complexity and timescales of this huge investment programme make this one of the most challenging and exciting roles in Britain today and we will be looking for the best talent to take over from Simon when he leaves for HS2 in June of this year."






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This article was published on 17 Jan 2014 (last updated on 17 Jan 2014).

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