Mark Thurston, the CEO of HS2 Ltd, has announced that he will be stepping down from his role in the autumn. Thurston has been CEO of HS2 since 2017, and has overseen the project through a period of significant challenges.
In a statement, Thurston said that he was "proud of the progress that HS2 has made" during his time as CEO. He highlighted the project's achievements, including the completion of the first phase of tunnelling and the start of construction on the first phase of viaducts.
However, Thurston also acknowledged that the project had faced "significant challenges". He said that these challenges had included "political uncertainty, delays, and cost increases".
Despite these challenges, Thurston said that he was confident that HS2 would be a "transformational project" for the UK. He said that the project would "improve connectivity, boost economic growth, and create jobs".
He said: “Leading this organisation has been the highlight of my career and a privilege from the first day - the programme has come such a long way and I want to thank everyone who has worked on the project during my time.
“The next 18-24 months will see the project move into an exciting new stage. I have agreed with the Board that someone else should lead the organisation and programme through what will be another defining period for HS2.”
A successor to Thurston has not yet been announced. However, HS2 Ltd said that it would be "conducting a global search" for a new CEO.
In the meantime, HS2 Ltd will be led by its chairman, David Higgins whilst the hunt for a successor continues. It is expected that Sir Jon Thompson will become Executive Chairman for an interim period in September.
During Thurston’s leadership, he was criticised for ballooning costs including a report from the Public Affairs Committee last week which criticised HS2’s planning and vision for the HS2 Terminal at Euston.
Mark Harper, Secretary of State for Transport praised Mr Thurston. In a statement, he said: “I’d like to thank Mark Thurston for his work over the last six years progressing Britain’s most transformative rail project.
“As well as successfully overseeing the start of construction, he has ensured HS2 has created tens of thousands of skilled jobs and apprenticeships across the country. As HS2 enters its next phase, the Government remains committed to unlocking all the benefits of this flagship infrastructure scheme – increasing rail capacity, connecting communities and growing the economy."
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