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Advertised in error

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HS2 Ltd has denied that David Higgins has resigned, after the Cabinet Office announced that it was seeking a new chairman in an official newsletter.

Cabinet Office public appointments newsletter, extract, 2016-04-28


[HS2 chairman’s £475k-a-year post advertised ‘in error’ by Government, Andrew Gilligan, Daily Telegraph, 30 April 2016]

[…] The bulletin states that the job is “expected to be advertised within the next few months”.

But a spokesman for HS2 claimed the entry was an “error”, saying: “Sir David Higgins remains as chairman of HS2 Ltd.”

However, the spokesman refused to say how long he would remain or to make any further comment.
His contract was extended only in January this year after he was initially appointed for a two-year term beginning in January 2014.

In November 2013 the government announced that David Higgins would be taking up the chairmanship of HS2 Ltd, ‘to drive down the cost of the high speed rail project’. announcement: David Higgins to drive down the cost of HS2

In February 2011, David Higgins took over the position of chief executive of the failing infrastructure manager, Network Rail. In July 2015, he told the BBC there was ‘no sign of a crisis’ at Network Rail when he ran it.

BBC News: David Higgins said there was no sign of a crisis at emerging when he ran Network Rail

Having claimed that HS2 had been damaged by not ‘clearly‘ setting out the rationale, in November 2014 Mr Higgins told the House of Commons transport select committee that “a railway line where trains travel at 220 miles an hour as opposed to 120 miles an hour clearly has nearly twice the capacity because you can have twice as many trains on it”.

David Higgins claimed that 'a railway line where trains travel at 220 miles an hour as opposed to 120 miles an hour clearly has nearly twice the capacity because you can have twice as many trains on it'

“Once we started to talk about capacity, then people started to get it.” Or perhaps, more accurately, ‘once the chairman of HS2 started to talk about capacity, it became clear that he hadn’t the foggiest idea what he was talking about’.

At the time of writing, the ‘twice the capacity’ claim is the subject of an unresolved, and long-overdue, freedom of information enquiry to HS2 Ltd.

Written by beleben

May 1, 2016 at 1:40 pm

Posted in HS2

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3 Responses

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  1. Clearly rail systems are different to other ground transport then – generally lowering the speed of motor traffic enables a closer spacing of vehicles and lanes, with smoother more integrated flows increasing capacity and as for sheer volume of people moved very little beats well organised traffic on foot – a principle well understood in the transport arrangements crowd movements during London 2012. Am I missing something here?

    Dave H (@BCCletts)

    May 1, 2016 at 3:18 pm

    • I believe you’re making an assumption that new signalling will allow this closer spacing. I gather that the “block” signalling currently used restricts trains to one per “section of track”. I assume that HS2 intends to use improved signalling without this restriction. So you’re assuming that classic rail will be upgraded similarly. Correct & reasonable?


      May 5, 2016 at 5:01 am

  2. How can there be such negativity about this foreign person ‘wot won us the Olympics’? This is the person who turned around Network Rail even though it had been going in the right direction. How could any ceo be expected to know otherwise. And after all the golden hellos, we can only hope he gets a mighty big golden goodbye – he’s earned it, having put up with all the misplaced (?) derision.


    May 4, 2016 at 8:53 pm

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