Advertised in error
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.
[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’.
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.
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”.
“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.