Lavish homes of three HS2 fat cats paid more than £1.3million a year

The lavish homes of the three HS2 fat cats paid more than £1.3million a year: Fury over ‘shameful’ salaries of top bosses running the beleaguered rail line – with more than 40 senior staff taking home annual wage of at least £150,000

Fury is mounting over the ‘shameful’ salaries of top bosses at HS2 as more than 40 staff members in charge of the beleaguered rail line earn £150,000 per year or more.

The outgoing boss, Mark Thurston, alone pocketed £676,763, last year – which included a bonus of nearly £40,000.

It means he earned almost four times as much as Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s current yearly salary.

The PM, who earns £162,000 per year for his role, is currently reviewing HS2 following soaring costs, with reports Mr Sunak is poised to dramatically scale it down. 

The high salaries of those overseeing the multi-billion pound infrastructure project have come under intense scrutiny amid fevered speculation over its future.

The rail link project’s senior officials have collectively enjoyed pay packages totalling up to £49.5million over the last five years.

HS2 chief executive Mark Thurston’s pay surged by more than 9 per cent last year

This is reportedly the home of outgoing HS2 Chief Executive Mark Thurston in Surrey

More than 40 staff in charge of the beleaguered HS2 rail line earned £150,000 per year or more in 2022

Mark Thurston

Chief executive Mark Thurston, 56, joined HS2 in March 2017, shortly after Parliament signed off the building of Phase One of the project.

Mr Thurston previously worked on the 2012 London Olympics and Crossrail – the much delayed train new railway through central London. 

In 2020 he secured government approval to move into major construction works and fully mobilised a workforce which stands at 28,500 today, including 1,200 apprentices. 

His pay package surged by more than 9 per cent last year, taking it from £618,144 to £676,763. It included a bonus of nearly £40,000.

Mr Thurston pocketed nearly two-and-a-half times as much as the next highest earner among HS2 staff.

According to the Express newspaper, he lives in a £1.4million five-bedroom house in Surrey. 

He is due to leave his role this month.

HS2 Ltd’s long standing Chief Executive Officer, Mark Thurston, is to step down

When he announced he would be leaving in July, he said: ‘Leading this organisation has been the highlight of my career and a privilege from the first day – the programme has come such a long way and I want to thank everyone who has worked on the project during my time.

‘The next 18-24 months will see the project move into an exciting new stage. I have agreed with the Board that someone else should lead the organisation and programme through what will be another defining period for HS2.’

Mr Thurston began his career as a technician apprentice on the London Underground. 

He is a Visiting Professor at the Bartlett School of Sustainable Construction at UCL, an honorary fellow of the Association for Project Management and a fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers. 

In 2019 he received an honorary doctorate of technology at the University of East London and in 2021 the same honour from Loughborough University.

Ruth Todd

Ruth Todd, 54, is HS2’s chief commercial officer and the the third-highest earner. She reports directly to Mr Thurston.

She received a bonus of £21,760, taking her package to £313,055 last year. 

Ms Todd joined HS2 in July 2021 from her position as a director of the Government’s Covid vaccine taskforce, where she led the programme to deliver coronavirus vaccines for the UK.

She previously worked at the Submarine Delivery Agency, an executive agency of the Ministry of Defence. 

Ruth Todd is a member of both the Executive Team and the HS2 Board

This is reportedly the Warwickshire home of HS2 Chief Commercial Officer Ruth Todd

She previously worked for Babcock International where she managed the Land Equipment (military vehicles and other army equipment) support supply chain. 

Before that she was programme director for Jaguar Land Rover.

Ms Todd has a degree in Manufacturing Engineering and is a Chartered Member of the Institute of Logistics and Transportation and the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply.

According to reports, she lives in Warwickshire.

Alan Foster

Alan Foster, 52, is the chief financial officer, and is paid £370,449. 

He lives in a £1.6million home within a gated cul-de-sac near Birmingham, reports say. 

He joined HS2 in July 2022 and also reports directly to Mr Thurston. 

Mr Foster is responsible for a wide range of teams, including Finance, Legal, Sponsorship, Programme Controls and IT.

Alan Foster joined HS2 as Chief Financial Officer in July 2022

This is reportedly the home of HS2 CFO Alan Foster near Birmingham 

Previously, was Group CFO of a construction company and spent over 20 years at National Grid plc in a range of Finance and Commercial leadership roles both in the UK and the US.

Before National Grid, he led Finance and IT at a division of a FMCG business, after nearly seven years with British Sugar plc. 

He has a degree in Mathematics and is a Chartered Management Accountant (ACMA) and a member of the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply (MCIPS).

The Prime Minister, who earns £162,000 per year for his role, is currently reviewing HS2 following soaring costs

There are reports Rishi Sunak is poised to dramatically scale down HS2 by scrapping its northern leg to Manchester

According to The Times, the PM is said to have been ‘alarmed’ at the increasing price of HS2 amid claims the project’s bosses acted like ‘kids with the golden credit card’.

It has been suggested the PM could scrap a planned northern leg of the train line from Birmingham to Manchester.

He could also shorten the Birmingham to London leg so that it ends seven miles short of its planned terminus at Euston station.

The leftover rump would see high-speed train services run between Old Oak Common in west London and Birmingham, but no further.

Read more: More than 40 staff in charge of the beleaguered rail line are paid at least £150k a year – including the outgoing CEO who earns nearly four times as much as the PM

Critics have dubbed the mooted scaled-back HS2 line a ‘railway to nowhere’.

It would represent a serious downgrading of the project’s initial aim of linking Manchester, Leeds, the Midlands and London together. 

Under current plans, Phase One of HS2 involves the railway being built between London and Birmingham, with the line extended from the West Midlands to Crewe in Phase 2a.

Phase 2b will connect Crewe to Manchester and the West Midlands to the East Midlands.

A planned extension to Leeds was controversially scrapped in November 2021.

Former Conservative leader William Hague became the latest high-profile figure to criticise HS2, branding it a ‘national disgrace’ that has been ‘terribly badly managed’.

He told Times Radio: ‘It should have been cancelled a few years ago when it was clear that the whole thing was out of control.’

Official pay figures show that between 2018 and 2022, a total of between £48.3million and £49.5million went on pay packages of staff earning £150,000 or more – or nearly £10million on average annually.

Tory MP Greg Smith, who sits on the Commons transport committee, said: ‘I’d like to know what the bonuses were for – abject failure?

‘The tax-paying public will be shocked and horrified to discover the sheer volume of taxpayers’ money being spent on executives to deliver what we now see to be ballooning costs and failure to manage the project correctly.

‘This is waste in its purest form and more evidence that HS2 needs to go.’

An HS2 spokesman said: ‘HS2 is Europe’s biggest infrastructure project and it is necessary to employ people with the right level of expertise to deliver it successfully. Executive salaries are signed off by the Department for Transport and Treasury.’ 

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