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Former ODA and current Network Rail CEO Sir David Higgins to be HS2 chairman from 2014

Sir David Higgins will take over as chairman of HS2 from January 2014.

Doug Oakervee has announced he will stand down as chairman and current Network Rail chief executive Sir David Higgins will join part-time on 1 January before taking the role full-time in March.

The move comes after former Shell executive vice-president Mark Carne was confirmed to replace Sir David at Network Rail earlier this month.

Mr Carne will join Network Rail on 6 January 2014 and take over as chief executive from 1 April 2014.

Sir David joined the board of Network Rail as a non-executive director in April 2010.

He became chief executive in February 2011, after he left his position as chief executive of the Olympic Delivery Authority, which he had led since its creation.

Secretary of State for Transport Patrick McLoughlin said: “The appointment of Sir David Higgins to replace Doug Oakervee ensures that we will continue to have leaders at the heart of HS2 who have a track record of delivery.

“His experience at both Network Rail and as chief executive of the Olympic Delivery Authority – where he oversaw construction of the magnificent Olympic Park, a legacy which will be enjoyed by generations – will be essential to ensure we deliver HS2 on time and on budget.”

Mr Oakervee will remain in post to oversee the introduction of the government’s Hybrid Bill before the end of this year.

“I am pleased to have been able to play a key role in delivering this project which will serve the country for many generations to come”

Doug Oakervee, HS2

The Bill will secure parliamentary approval for Phase 1 of the 350 mile route between London and Birmingham, allowing work to start in 2017 and freeing-up essential capacity for passengers and freight across the rail network.

Sir David said: “I am delighted to be taking up this role. Working at Network Rail I know the challenges we have ahead with capacity on the railways – they are real and we need to take action now. I also know the significant benefits that improved journey times between our northern cities will bring not just to the north, but the UK economy as a whole.

HS2 is the right solution. It is vital for both passengers and the economy and will put the UK in a different league in terms of infrastructure. My first priority will be to rigorously scrutinise costs to ensure they remain under control.”

Speaking at the Institution of Civil Engineers this morning, chief secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander again defended the project, which has come under criticism for spiralling costs in recent months.

Mr Alexander insisted the coalition was “fully committed to the infrastructure programme we have set out”.

He added: “We have the mechanisms at the Treasury and in the Department for Transport to keep those costs under control and – as happened with the Games – I want to see this project delivered under budget, and returning money to the taxpayer. And it will be delivered.”

“Doug Oakervee has been an inspirational chairman who brought industry knowledge and a proven track record of delivering large, complex rail projects to his tenure at HS2 Ltd”

Alison Munro, HS2

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