Sir Terry Morgan has formally resigned as chairman of HS2 and Crossrail, two of the nation’s biggest infrastructure projects, days after very publicly predicting his imminent sacking.
Morgan had been chair of Crossrail, the project to provide the capital with new east-west rail link through the delivery of a new deep-bore tunnel system, for nine years.
He was only appointed to the HS2 role in July, weeks before Crossrail announced it was pushing back its opening schedule from December this year by up to 12 months to “autumn 2019”.
The Financial Times reported earlier this week that Crossrail was on track to seek a further bailout likely to amount to “hundreds of millions of pounds” to complete the project. It said the precise figure would depend on a report being prepared by consultant KPMG.
A statement from the Department for Transport said it and Transport for London had “accepted” Morgan’s resignation from his Crossrail role. Both organisations are partners in the £15bn project.
Transport secretary Chris Grayling said he had also accepted Morgan’s resignation from his HS2 role.
“Sir Terry has been an integral part of Crossrail for almost a decade and I would like to thank him for his dedication and the expertise he brought to the role,” Grayling said.
“I am also grateful to him for his work as chair of HS2 Ltd.”
Grayling said Allan Cook would replace Morgan in the HS2 role. Cook is a former chair of engineering and project-management consultancy Atkins, and has also previously chaired Leonardo UK, part of the aerospace giant that owns the former Westland Helicopters business.
Cook is also a former co-chair of the public-private Defence Growth Partnership, which brings together the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the Ministry of Defence, and the UK defence industry.
Grayling did not give reasons why Morgan had resigned or why he had chosen to accept the resignation.
However, “on time and on budget” has been a longstanding mantra for Crossrail that August’s rescheduling effectively derailed. Ministers will have been keen distance delays with the Crossrail project from the new London-to-Birmingham line, which is the first phase of HS2 and scheduled to open in 2026.
Announcing Morgan’s appointment to replace Sir David Higgins in the HS2 role on July 13, Grayling said the move ensured “we will continue to see world-class leadership in an exciting period for one of Europe’s most significant infrastructure projects”.
Grayling added at the time that Morgan’s “wealth of experience and expertise, demonstrated in numerous leading roles including overseeing the ambitious Crossrail project” would be “invaluable” for HS2’s “continued success”.
Separately, the government’s Rail Review today launched a call for evidence “from passengers, the industry, leading thinkers and investors” on the future direction for the rail industry.
The review was set up by Grayling in September with a brief to gather information that would “help inform a transformation of the rail industry to benefit passengers and support a stronger, fairer economy”.
It is expected to provide recommendations on the government’s future franchising strategy, in particular bringing track and train closer together to reduce disruption and improve accountability. DfT said the review would also consider regional partnerships and innovative ways to improve services and value for money for passengers.
DfT said a white paper would be produced in “autumn 2019" following the review.