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HS2 appoints Network Rail safety chief

The new safety chief of the £43bn High Speed 2 scheme has pledged to build “the safest railway the UK has ever seen”.

Emma Head, formerly director of safety strategy at Network Rail, was last week named as corporate health and safety director on HS2.

She is due to start work in August on the project to build the rapid rail link from London to the North, reporting directly to chief executive Simon Kirby.

Head said: “HS2 is an exciting, ambitious and challenging project. It will be a catalyst for positive change both locally and nationally. But it will also provide a unique opportunity to build on our experience and learnings from the existing rail network, as well as relevant foreign experience, making health and safety the first consideration in everything we do.

“That means building the safest railway the UK has ever seen. Not just for our workforce and local communities during construction but also for the passengers, line side neighbours and employees during operation. The next two years will be crucial and I look forward to getting started.”

Kirby described Head’s appointment as “hugely important”.

“Her experience of driving through effective and lasting change on the existing rail network and her unfailing commitment to delivering the highest levels of safety for employees, passengers and local communities will be vital as we move closer to the start of construction in two years’ time,” he said.

“Building from scratch, HS2 has the opportunity to ensure safety is always our key priority. Freed from the constraints of working with an essentially Victorian rail network, HS2 will be able to provide a step change in the way we approach risk management and system safety as well as working culture and practices.”

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