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03/12/2018

HS2 and Crossrail chairman expects to be fired

Words: Huw Morris
HS2 train concept art / HS2

The chairman of HS2 believes that he will be sacked within the next few days.

Sir Terry Morgan told BBC Radio 4’s PM programme on Saturday that ministers are disappointed about delays affecting Crossrail, which he also chairs. Crossrail’s Elizabeth line, which had been scheduled to open this month, has been delayed until autumn 2019 “to complete the final infrastructure and extensive testing required”.

Transport secretary Chris Grayling described Morgan as “world class” on his appointment to the HS2 role in August. According to a report in the Financial Times, Grayling and chancellor Philip Hammond have lost confidence in Morgan and have urged Prime Minister Theresa May to sack him.

Morgan was asked on the PM programme whether he is expecting to be asked to stand down.

“Not formally as yet,” he said. “There was a piece in the Financial Times this morning, and I did get confirmation late yesterday afternoon that that was a leak. As far as I’m concerned, I’m expecting that to be confirmed more formally in the next few days.

“I can only but assume, because I’ve not yet been told, that because HS2 is such a critically important programme and with the sense of disappointment around the performance of Crossrail, that it was considered to be too risky for a programme like HS2 to continue in my role as chairman.

“On Crossrail I can’t deny I’m disappointed we had so many challenges so late in the programme, particularly on system integration. And that’s because there are some tremendously gifted engineers who have built what I know will be a fantastic programme. However, there’s been some unfortunate comment about who knew what and when about whether the programme on Crossrail was running late. I’m very confident that Crossrail behaved properly.”

Image credit | HS2 Ltd 

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