HS2 Ltd chief executive officer, Mark Thurston, is stepping down.
After six-and-a-half-years leading Europe’s largest infrastructure project, Thurston announced today he will leave the organisation in the autumn.
Phase One (between London and the West Midlands) is at peak construction. Thurston will hand over to new leadership who will lead the transition to the next stage of the project, said HS2 Ltd.
He will leave at the end of September, when HS2 Ltd chairman, Sir Jon Thompson, will become executive chairman for an interim period while a new CEO is recruited.
Thompson will be supported by deputy chairperson, Elaine Holt.
Thurston 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.”
Thurston joined the organisation in March 2017, shortly after it secured royal assent for Phase One.
In 2020, he secured UK Government approval to move into major construction works.
More than 3,000 UK businesses are in HS2’s supply chain and 61% of contracts have been awarded to SMEs.
Sir Jon Thompson said: “Mark’s leadership has been critical to the success of the HS2 programme. In his time as CEO the project has moved from a scheme in development to a major construction project that employs 28,500 people across the country.
“His legacy is building the foundations of HS2 which will bring growth and prosperity to towns and cities across the Midlands and the North. I want to thank him for his leadership and service.”
Mark Harper, secretary of state for transport, added: “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.”
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