Daily Mail

...and next boss is on track for an even bigger pay package!

- By David Churchill Chief Political Correspond­ent

THE next boss of HS2 could get paid more than their predecesso­r despite the project being severely curtailed, MPs were told yesterday.

Former HS2 chief Mark Thurston, who stepped down in September, was paid £676,000 in the last financial year, including a base salary of £635,814 and bonus of £39,958.

But Sir Jon Thompson, who is heading HS2 until a replacemen­t is found, told the public accounts committee he has advised Government officials to offer an even

‘Earn more if targets are met’

higher pay deal. Quizzed about the search for a new chief executive, he said: ‘The only outstandin­g issue is the question of salary, which is currently with ministers.

‘My recommenda­tion is that we change the reward structure so that it’s much more heavily incentivis­ed towards meeting the schedule and delivering to the lowest possible cost. So it will be a lower base than Mr Thurston but there will be more opportunit­y to earn a higher salary if you meet all the necessary targets.’

HS2 has been lavishing an average of nearly £10million a year in pay on its top-earning directors. Mr Thurston’s pay alone surged by more than 9 per cent last year, taking it from £618,144 to £676,000.

It comes after rail minister Huw Merriman told Parliament that HS2’s latest cost projection for the London to Birmingham line could hit £57billion – up from £54billion previously. But he said the Government believed the route, now expected to open in 2033, could still be delivered for between £45billion and £54billion. n Millions of potholes will be filled in thanks to savings made by axeing HS2’s Birmingham to Manchester leg. Transport Secretary Mark Harper yesterday said £8.3billion will be spent resurfacin­g 5,000 miles of roads in the next 11 years.

It is part of Network North, which will plough the £36billion earmarked for HS2’s northern leg into other transport projects.

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