HS2 Ltd has been hit by the departure of its chief executive and claims that its recent proposal to change the high speed line’s route though South Yorkshire was not properly researched.
It was announced over the weekend that Simon Kirby, chief executive of the Government-owned company responsible for building the new line, is to join Rolls Royce as its chief operating officer.
HS2 Ltd is responsible for constructing the new rail line
David Higgins, chairman of HS2 Ltd, said: ‘I am delighted for both Simon and Rolls Royce that he has been appointed to this position. Whilst naturally we will miss his experience and leadership, I also recognise that he is joining a truly great, global company in an industry in which he has previously worked.
‘In his two and half years with the company, Simon has used his vast experience to recruit and shape a world class team which over the coming years and decades will turn HS2 into a reality that will be of lasting benefit to this country.’
However, Stop HS2 campaign manager Joe Rukin called Mr Kirby’s departure ‘a serious blow to those who champion HS2’. He accused Mr Kirby of ‘getting out before the true scale of the mess he has presided over is realised’.
Separately, the Guardian reported that HS2 Ltd had ‘admitted’ that it has yet to complete its assessment of how many demolitions will be required and what level of noise pollution will be produce produced through its proposal for a different route through South Yorkshire.
In July, Mr Higgins put forward new route proposals involving a spur to Sheffield city centre, scrapping plans for a new station at Meadowhall, to the east of the city.
HS2 Ltd said at the time that the ‘alternative recommendations’ would cut journey times and reduce the cost of the project by around £1bn.
The alternative plans will be considered by transport secretary Chris Grayling, who will make an announcement on the full HS2 Phase 2 route later this year.
Jonathan Pile, a spokesman for campaign group Yorkshire Against HS2, claimed Mr Grayling was being misled and had not been given all the information he needed to make his decision.
An HS2 Ltd spokesperson told the Guardian: ‘Following the decision, all of this information will be released as part of a consultation that will enable affected communities to have their say, including information on noise and demolitions.’