Birmingham and Fazeley viaduct, part of the proposed route for the HS2 Photo: HS2/PA Wire
HS2 risks controversy by hiring a Network Rail executive on £750,000 a year to help run the project
By Peter Dominiczak, Assistant Political Editor, Daily Telegraph
1:09PM GMT 17 Jan 2014
The company running the controversial high-speed rail project have hired a Network Rail executive on a salary of £750,000 a year.
In a move bound to cause controversy, Simon Kirby will join the project as chief executive of construction on a salary more than five time higher that the Prime Minister’s wage of £142,500.
Mr Kirby was managing director of infrastructure projects at Network Rail and received criticism for the size of his bonus payments.
He is understood to have turned down offers from the private sector which would have paid far bigger salaries.
There have been growing concerns about the spiralling cost of the £50 billion HS2 project.
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Labour last year threatened to withdraw support for the scheme amid fears that it will go dramatically over budget.
“It would be a false economy to appoint someone with less experience and on a lower salary,” a source said. “He is renowned for being fastidious with budgets and his appointment will mean a net saving overall.”
HS2 this week said that opponents of the scheme will be given extra time to register their complaints after nearly 900 pages were left out of the consultation on the scheme.
Campaigners will now be given until February 10 to respond to the 50,000-page environmental report on HS2, which will see 225mph trains running from London to Birmingham by around 2026.
Campaigners had complained that 877 pages of documents were initially left off a computer memory stick, meaning they would be unable to respond to the consultation in time.
David Higgins, the new HS2 chairman, said: “As I start my tenure as chairman of this essential project that will free up much needed capacity on our crowded railways, I am extremely pleased that we have secured Simon to run what will be the biggest infrastructure project in Europe, and one of the biggest in the world.
“Delivering this project in a way which is not just cost effective, but also delivers its benefits to as much of the country as soon as possible, is a huge engineering project, but Simon has proven throughout his career that he is capable of taking on such a unique challenge.”
Mr Kirby has an open-ended contract at HS2, it is understood.