Speculation about Sir Terry Morgan’s future has been rife since the Financial Times quoted unnamed sources last week that both transport secretary Chris Grayling and chancellor Philip Hammond wanted him gone.
“The more people looked into what was happening at Crossrail, the more they realised that Terry Morgan wasn’t the person to take a massive project like HS2 over the line,” an anonymous government official told the FT.
Sir Terry told the BBC over the week that given the briefings going on behind his back he expected to be sacked imminently.
Yesterday the transport secretary announced that he had accepted Sir Terry Morgan’s resignation as chairman of HS2 Ltd. At the same time, the mayor of London accepted his resignation as chairman of Crossrail Ltd.
Sir Terry Morgan only took over the HS2 job from Sir David Higgins on 1st August. There is no suggestion that he has done much wrong there in the past four months.
However, he has been chairman of Crossrail since 2009 and has been unable to bring it in on time or on budget. This resulted in ministers losing confidence in him to succeed at HS2.
Crossrail was meant to have opened this month but in September the opening was pushed back from December 2018 to autumn 2019 after problems with the commissioning and testing process. The project budget was increased from £14.8bn to £15.4bn in July 2018
Sir Terry’s replacement at Crossrail has yet to be named but taking over as chair of HS2 is Allan Cook, who was chief executive of defence contractor Cobham from 2000 to 2009 and chairman of consulting engineer WS Atkins from 2010 until it was taken over by Canada’s SNC-Lavalin last year.
“It is a privilege to be asked to take on this crucial role on UK’s biggest infrastructure project,” Mr Cook said. “HS2 will transform Britain through the creation of jobs and skills across UK industry. It will improve connectivity and passenger experience as well as creating value for the UK economy.”
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: “HS2 is the country’s biggest infrastructure project and, with his wealth of experience, Allan Cook CBE is the right person to oversee the project as it progresses towards full construction.”
He said much the same about Sir Terry Morgan four months ago.