Former Crossrail chairman to oversee high-speed route design

Douglas Oakervee has been appointed as the new chairman of HS2 Ltd for a minimum three-year term.

The former Crossrail executive chairman and project director at Hong Kong’s Chek Lap Kok International Airport will take up the post next month - within days of the expected launch of Judicial Review proceedings over the controversial high-speed rail link between London, Birmingham and the north.

The Department for Transport (DfT) said Oakervee’s primary responsibilities would include ensuring that the route design and environmental assessments were in line with government guidance, and promoting the high-speed line to the general public.

Transport secretary Justine Greening said HS2 would transform the economic shape of the UK and that Mr Oakervee would bring decades of experience of working on major infrastructure projects.

“The next few years include a number of key challenges and milestones for this project and Doug’s input will be invaluable as we move forward,” she said.

Oakervee said he was “passionate” about the development of the UK’s high-speed rail network.

“I believe that HS2 offers a unique chance to address the capacity issues facing the British transport network and to promote growth in our major cities,” he said.

“I will use my experience of the hybrid bill process at Crossrail to ensure that HS2 Ltd is best able to efficiently navigate this stage of the project.”

DfT said Oakervee’s appointment would run for three to five years and attracted a salary range of £120,000-£140,000 for a minmum two-day week. It added that a reappointment would be possible, with potential for Oakervee to serve for up to 10 years.

Two legal challenges to the first phase of the HS2 route are expected to be lodged with the High Court in a matter of days, one from local authorities opposed to the line.

Buckinghamshire County Council is leading one of the protest groups challenging the justification for the route.

Leader Martin Tett told The Times he expected a challenge to be issued later this week.

“The government has rejected all our areas of claim and therefore we are not left with any option other than a judicial review,” he said.