Two new non-executive directors appointed

The transport secretary has refreshed the leadership of HS2 Ltd by appointing two new non-executive directors from finance and digital backgrounds. 

Joanna Davinson and Keith Smithson have been added to the board joining four existing non-executive directors who have all been reappointed and will work alongside its chair, Sir Jonathan Thompson, to provide work on getting a handle on costs on the project. 

Davinson was previously executive director of the central digital and data office at the Cabinet Office before her retirement last year, while Smithson has held several executive positions at HSBC, Paragon Banking Group and KPMG. 


Work at Euston was put on hold earlier this year by transport secretary Mark Harper

The new appointments replace Mel Ewell and Roger Mountford, who recently stepped down having completed full terms on the board. 

Deputy chair Elaine Holt and special director Ian King have both been re-appointed for a further four years, while Dame Judith Hackitt and Stephen Hughes have been reappointed as non-executive directors for a further three. 

Thompson said the pair would “further strengthen the expertise and leadership we have on the HS2 Board at a critical time for the programme as we meet the challenges of inflation and delivering the programme in the most cost-effective way”. 

Transport secretary Mark Harper said: “They bring with them a wealth of experience and I’m confident the right people are in place to robustly grip costs, hold HS2 Ltd to account and drive forward this revolutionary project.” 

In March, Harper told the House of Commons that construction work on the later phases of HS2 would be delayed by two years as a result of soaring inflation. 

The section of the route between Old Oak Common in west London and Birmingham’s new Curzon Street Station will now be prioritised. 

Since then, work has been slowed down on a section of the planned route between the HS2 station at Curzon Street and Handsacre in Staffordshire, where the railway will join the existing West Coast Mainline. 

The move has put jobs at risk at Balfour Beatty Vinci, the joint venture carrying out this work, which recently told staff it needed to “work through the specific impact [the rephasing] will have on colleagues working on Mainline North activity”. 

At the Euston station site, which has also been mothballed, the design team has been reduced from 500 to six, while the Mace Dragados main contractor team has also been shrunk. 

Roughly 150 of an original 320 management staff remain, while the labour force of 450 is gradually being reduced to 200.