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Network Rail appoints Higgins as new chief executive

Network Rail announced today that it has appointed Olympic Delivery Authority boss David Higgins as its new chief executive.

Higgins, currently chief executive of the ODA, will succeed Iain Coucher when he steps down at the end of October but will not take up his new position until 1 February 2011. He is already a non-executive director of Network Rail, and will continue in that role until he starts as chief executive.

Before joining the ODA, Higgins was the chief executive of property firm Lend Lease from 1995 to 2002 before joining English Partnerships as chief executive (2003-2005).

“There are significant challenges and opportunities ahead for both Network Rail and the industry such as the comprehensive spending review, the McNulty value for money review and the planning of HS2,” said Network Rail chairman Rick Haythornthwaite. “Public, passengers, politicians and the industry are demanding a better, safer railway delivered at a lower cost where success will depend on pervasive collaboration. David is well-placed to lead both Network Rail and the industry forward to meet these challenges.”

Haythornthwaite added that Higgins had emerged as the leading candidate after an “extensive” search.

“Network Rail is one of the most important companies in the UK - an efficient railway underpins a modern economy - and therefore a challenge I could not turn down,” said Higgins. “My priority is to bring Network Rail and the industry closer so that together we can continue to improve service, efficiency and safety and add much needed capacity to a railway network that is nearly full.”

In the interim period prior to Higgins’ start date and following the departure of Iain Coucher, Peter Henderson will take on the role of acting chief executive. Peter Henderson is currently director for asset management.

Higgins will be replaced at the ODA by Dennis Hone, who takes up the role of chief executive elect with immediate effect. He is currently the ODA’s finance director.

Since the outset of the Olympic project he has been responsible for ensuring the management of the ODA’s budget and involved in the development of the ODA’s programme and delivery of the project. He is also responsible for a range of corporate services, such as IT functions, Legal and HR.

He previously held a range of senior jobs in the public sector focused on regeneration. He joined the ODA from English Partnerships, the Government’s national regeneration agency, where he was chief operating officer.  His previous roles include deputy chief executive and director of finance at the Commission for the New Towns and financial controller of the London Docklands Development Corporation.

David Higgins’ CV in brief

2006 to date: Olympic Delivery Authority chief executive
2003 to 2005: English Partnerships chief executive
1995 to 2002: Lend Lease group chief executive
1990 to 1995: Lend Lease Property Services chief executive

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