Network Rail, the operator of Britain’s rail infrastructure, today announced the appointment of David Higgins as chief executive of the company.
Mr Higgins succeeds Iain Coucher, who is stepping down at the end of October. Mr Higgins, who is currently chief executive of the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA), will take up his new position on 1 February 2011. Mr Higgins is currently a non-executive director of Network Rail, a role he will continue until he starts as chief executive.
Before joining the ODA, Mr Higgins was the chief executive of Lend Lease, an international property and construction company from 1995 to 2002 before joining English Partnerships as chief executive (2003-05).
Network Rail’s chairman, Rick Haythornthwaite, said: “We recruited David to the board earlier this year because of his track record in leading large organisations, delivering demanding projects and managing a complex range of commercial interests and wider stakeholder sensitivities. With Iain Coucher deciding it is the right time to leave Network Rail, David emerged as the outstanding candidate to lead Network Rail into a challenging new era following an extensive search process.
“There are significant challenges and opportunities ahead for both Network Rail and the industry such as the comprehensive spending review, the McNulty value for money review and the planning of HS2. Public, passengers, politicians and the industry are demanding a better, safer railway delivered at a lower cost where success will depend on pervasive collaboration. David is well-placed to lead both Network Rail and the industry forward to meet these challenges.”
Commenting on his appointment, David Higgins said: “It has been a privilege to lead the ODA over the last five years and I am leaving with the Olympic Park on time, within budget and with the finish line in sight.
“Looking forward, Network Rail is one of the most important companies in the UK – an efficient railway underpins a modern economy – and therefore a challenge I could not turn down. Network Rail and the rail industry have transformed the train service in Britain in the last eight years – trains run on time and the railway is safer than ever. My priority is to bring Network Rail and the industry closer so that together we can continue to improve service, efficiency and safety and add much needed capacity to a railway network that is nearly full.”
In the interim period prior to Mr Higgins start date and following the departure of Iain Coucher, Peter Henderson will take on the role of acting chief executive. Peter Henderson is currently Director, Asset Management