HS2 chairman Allan Cook has handed in his resignation, HS2 minister Andrew Stephenson has announced. Cook will leave his role six months early at the end of July 2020. In a letter to the minister, Cook said that he had timed his departure to coincide with the planned start of tunnelling.
Encouragingly for the construction industry, Cook said that he expected HS2 to be “delivered in full” and he expected his successor to “give their full focus to the future momentum of the project as the railway expands further north”.
Cook, who took over from Sir Terry Morgan as chairman of the megaproject in December 2018, said that although it was inevitable that a project like HS2 would encounter challenges it was vital to understand the prize, which was “a low carbon railway for Britain that will make us a better connected and fairer country, bringing careers, jobs and prosperity to the towns and cities that need it most”.
In a statement following his resignation, Cook said that he felt privileged to have provided the project with more certainty on schedule and cost, helped embed a strong environmental and sustainability focus, establish a culture of openness and transparency and build a diverse and talented board of directors.
HS2 minister Andrew Stephenson commented: “Allan’s work has helped foster a culture of greater openness and transparency at a time when it was needed most at the company, and I am thankful for his tireless efforts as chairman. His work has ensured that the construction of this critical project is now underway, creating tens of thousands of skilled jobs, kickstarting our economy and helping us build back better from Covid-19.”
The construction industry will await the appointment of Cook’s successor with interest. Tunnelling is due to start this summer to usher in a new phase of the project and the new chairman will need to give their full focus to driving forward the project during its next critical phase.