HS2 boss quits just a day after Phase 2 bill suffers 12-month setback

HS2 Ltd has announced that Paul Griffiths, the managing director for Phase 2, is to leave the company after three years – one day after it was reported that the northern leg of the £56bn project would be delayed by 12 months.

Griffiths will step down in December to become the program director on the $40bn Metrolinx program in Toronto, the largest public transit investment in Canadian history.

HS2’s chairman Sir Terry Morgan, who recently left his London City Airport job to focus on the high-speed giant, said: “Phase 2 is critical to HS2’s goal of changing the economic geography of Britain, by bringing the towns and cities of the Midlands and the north closer together.

“Paul has played a vital part in moving that concept nearer to reality.”

Griffiths is just the latest senior personnel to leave the public company: technical director Andrew McNaughton stepped down in December 2017, CFO Steve Allen resigned two months before that, former Phase 2 boss Alison Munro left in August last year, commercial director Beth West went to Landsec in June, and the previous CEO swapped HS2 for Rolls-Royce at the end of 2016. But Sir Terry argued that given its sheer scale and duration, “changes of personnel and leadership are inevitable.”

Griffiths said: “Seeing HS2 move considerably closer to reality has been a privilege and will always have a special place in my career.

“HS2 is vital for the future of Britain and I will always be proud to have been part of its development.”

This comes after The Times revealed that the government was preparing to impose a 12-month parliamentary delay on the legislation needed to extend HS2 to Manchester and Leeds.

The hybrid bill is now expected to be tabled in two years’ time, although the government promised the pause would not impact on the 2033 completion date.

A spokesperson for the DfT said: “In order to maximise the huge potential of HS2, it is important to make sure it takes full account of the emerging vision for the other transformative project of Northern Powerhouse Rail.

“We will update parliament as part of our consultation this autumn.”

Griffiths joined HS2 Ltd as Phase 2 boss in 2017, working with central government and local stakeholders to plan and develop the route for the northern section.

He will be speaking at TransCityRail North on 4 October in Manchester. For more information about how to attend the event, please follow the link.

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