HS2 announces CH2M's European boss Mark Thurston as new chief executive

 
Rebecca Smith
Mark Thurston is CH2M's regional managing director
Mark Thurston is CH2M's regional managing director

HS2 has appointed CH2M's Mark Thurston as its new chief executive.

His appointment comes after a five-month hunt, which considered 20 potential candidates working on projects across the globe.

Thurston is currently the regional managing director overseeing CH2M's European operations and will take up his new role in the spring (after handing over leadership duties at CH2M).

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He said: “HS2 is arguably the most important investment in infrastructure in the UK for a generation, which will serve businesses and communities across much of the country. I am looking forward to leading the HS2 team and its partners to deliver a railway that will transform connectivity between our major cities and regions."

Thurston will pick up a £535,000 salary along with a pension allowance of £65,000 (plus bonus potential).

He's a rail industry veteran - starting his career as an apprentice with Transport for London and has worked for engineering firm CH2M since 2008, on the London 2012 Olympics and Crossrail.

Previous chief executive Simon Kirby resigned in September to take up a role at Rolls-Royce, with Roy Hill, also from CH2M, seconded to plug the gap in the interim.

Last month, chairman David Higgins said he would take up a new role as chairman of Gatwick at the beginning of this month.

Read more: Bidders asssemble: Details released for new HS2 and West Coast franchise

It is understood he will be remaining in post as chair for up to a year until a replacement is found.

Of Thurston's appointment, Higgins said: "The challenge is huge in terms of the task and timescale, but the board believes Mark has the knowledge, experience and leadership qualities to deliver the project within the budget we have been given and to do so in a way that recognises our responsibility both to Parliament and the communities in which we will be operating."

Higgins told the Transport Select Committee last month that HS2 should contemplate some sort of loyalty bonuses to keep its top people.

He noted that while it was "difficult to talk about bonuses in the public sector", they should consider "some sort of bonus over a period of years that encourages people to stay".

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