Higgins, who is currently top boss of the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) is to quit his role and move to Network Rail at the start of February next year.
He will succeed outgoing Network Rail chief executive Iain Coucher, who will depart from the rail infrastructure group at the end of next month.
Coucher’s departure was announced in June and was followed by a raft of controversy at Network Rail after it emerged that the group’s top managers were this year awarded bonuses and incentive payments totalling more than £2.2m. Coucher is set to recieve a £641,000 bonus on top of his £613,000 salary.
Meanwhile, it is thought that Higgins beat more than 500 applicants for the top post.
Prior to the five years he spent at the ODA, Higgins served as chief executive of English Partnerships for two years and seven years as group chief at Lend Lease.
Higgins will be replaced in February by ODA’s director of finance, Dennis Hone.