Doug Oakervee is standing down as chairman of HS2 Ltd at the end of the year.
His successor will be Sir David Higgins, who is himself stepping down as chief executive of Network Rail at the same time. He previously made his name preparing the infrastructure for the London Olympics.
Sir David Higgins will join HS2 on 1 January 2014 on a part time basis before taking up the post full time from March.
HS2 Ltd is the government-owned company charged with developing a new high speed rail service between London and the north of England .
Doug Oakervee is one of Britain’s leading civil engineers. He was project director for the construction of Hong Kong’s Chep Lap Kok airport and more recently between 2005 and 2009 led the Crossrail project through its planning stages. Since becoming chairman of HS2 in April 2012, he has overseen the development of the detailed proposals for the new High Speed 2 line. On appointment he was expected to serve between three and five years. He was paid £140,000 a year for working two days a week.
Mr Oakervee will remain in post to oversee the introduction of the government’s Hybrid Bill before the end of this year. The Bill will secure parliamentary approval for Phase 1 of the 350 mile route between London and Birmingham, allowing work to start in 2017 and freeing-up essential capacity for passengers and freight across the rail network.
Mr Doug Oakervee said: “I believe HS2 is vital to the growth of the UK economy and will deliver the capacity our rail network sorely needs. Sir David is the right man to continue the delivery of this project. I am delighted at his appointment and am confident that alongside Alison Munro our chief executive he will continue to drive the scheme forward.
“I am proud of all that I have achieved, particularly that we will be bringing the Hybrid Bill to Parliament by the end of the year, after which I will be standing down. I am pleased to have been able to play a key role in delivering this project which will serve the country for many generations to come.”
Sir David Higgins, an Australian, has been chief executive of Network Rail since 2011. Before that he was chief executive of the London 2012 Olympics Delivery Authority. His earlier career was as a civil engineer with Lend Lease.
He said of his new job: “I am delighted to be taking up this role. Working at Network Rail I know the challenges we have ahead with capacity on the railways – they are real and we need to take action now. I also know the significant benefits that improved journey times between our northern cities will bring not just to the north, but the UK economy as a whole.
“HS2 is the right solution. It is vital for both passengers and the economy and will put the UK in a different league in terms of infrastructure. My first priority will be to rigorously scrutinise costs to ensure they remain under control.
“HS2 presents a strategic opportunity for this country and I am determined to make sure we take it by delivering a railway that will allow business and communities to prosper in the long term.”
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 of the country’s first high speed line north of London will be introduced to Parliament on schedule later this year.
“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 Network Rail 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.”