HS2

12.09.16

Kirby resigns as HS2 chief executive to join Rolls Royce

HS2 Ltd’s chief executive has announced he is leaving the company just as the high-speed rail project approaches permission to go ahead.

Simon Kirby will stand down and take up a place as chief operating officer at Rolls Royce.

The HS2 Bill is currently progressing through the House of Lords and is due to gain Royal Assent by the end of the year.

Kirby said: “HS2 is not just a highly ambitious project, but also one which will leave a lasting legacy for Britain.

“It has been, therefore, a huge honour to have been its chief executive and to have been involved in creating a leadership team made up of the best talents from this country and elsewhere. I have absolute confidence in their ability to deliver the project and, in doing so, to help transform the way we do things in this country.”

Sir David Higgins, chair of HS2, said he was delighted for both Simon and Rolls Royce that he has been appointed to this position.

“Whilst naturally we will miss his experience and leadership, I also recognise that he is joining a truly great, global company in an industry in which he has previously worked,” he said.

“In his two and half years with the company, 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.”

The HS2 project has faced criticism recently after a National Audit Office report said that it risks missing the target of delivering phase 1 by 2026.

Sir Jeremy Heywood, the head of the civil service, is currently conducting a review of the project to try to ensure that it stays within its £55bn budget.

Joe Rukin, campaign manager at Stop HS2, accused Kirby of “getting out before the true scale of the mess he has presided over is realised”.

Sir David announced that the search for Kirby’s replacement is ongoing, but that Mel Ewel, former chief executive of Amey, has been appointed as a non-executive director on the HS2 board.

“[Ewel’s] great experience in the construction industry speaks for itself, as does the huge respect in which he is held,” he said. “As such he will be a great asset to the Board’s deliberations as we move to the point of construction.”

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