HS2 chief executive quits to join Rolls Royce

1 Sep 16

The chief executive of the High Speed 2 rail project has announced he is to leave to take up the post of chief operating officer at Rolls Royce.

Simon Kirby announced his decision yesterday, which comes ahead of ministerial decisions to give the final go-ahead to the scheme.

The line, which will link London, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds in two stages, is expected to open from London to Birmingham by 2026, and then extended to the other cities by 2033. The official project cost is £55.7bn, for both infrastructure and new trains.

Transport secretary Chris Grayling is expected to make a decision on the detailed route of the second stage in the coming months.

Announcing Kirby’s departure, HS2 chair David Higgins said Kirby was joining a global company in an industry in which he has previously worked.

“In his two-and-half years with the company [HS2], Simon has used his vast experience to recruit and shape a world-class team which over the coming years and decades will turn HS2 into a reality that will be of lasting benefit to this country,” he stated.

“That team will continue that process as we start and complete the process of finding Simon’s successor.”

Responding to the announcement, the Stop HS2 campaign group highlighted that the National Audit Office had raised concerns about the timetable and budget of the project.

Stop HS2 campaign manager Joe Rukin added: “The departure of Simon Kirby will be a serious blow to those who champion HS2, though many of us are at a complete loss to see just exactly what it is he has done to justify his three-quarter of a million pay packet.”

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