Mark Thurston is new chief executive of HS2

HS2 has appointed CH2M European regional managing director Mark Thurston as its new chief executive.

Thurston, who replaces Simon Kirby who left HS2 last year, began his career in the rail industry over 30 years ago as an apprentice with TfL, before spending time in a series of roles with The Nichols Group, Metronet, and, working for engineers CH2M on the London 2012 Olympics and Crossrail, where he was lead for the programme partner joint venture for three years.

His appointment comes after a five-month global search led by Heidrick and Struggles, which reviewed 20 potential candidates working on projects in America, Australia and Asia, as well as in the UK.

Commenting on the appointment, HS2 chairman David Higgins, said: “Mark not only knows the UK rail industry from the bottom up, but has worked for organisations operating at the highest level globally.  His grasp of how to manage the transition from page to reality makes him not only the right person to take over at HS2 as we are on the verge of royal assent, but also to see it through the years leading up to the first train being commissioned. 

“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.”

Thurston is due to start with HS2 in the spring, after he has transitioned his leadership responsibilities at CH2M. Speaking after his appointment, 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 is due to receive a basic salary of £535,000 pa, plus a pension allowance of £65,000 and  a potential bonus of up to 10% of his base salary.

If you would like to contact Andy Walker about this, or any other story, please email