HS2 bosses rake in £10 million a year with senior officials enjoying pay packages totalling up to £49.5 million over the last five years amid Rishi Sunak’s ‘alarm’ at the project’s spiralling cost
- HS2 CEO Mark Thurston’s package alone surged by more than 9% last year
- The project’s senior officials have been paid a total of £49.5million over the last five years
- It comes as Rishi Sunak is weighing up whether to scrap or delay another large section after becoming alarmed at spiralling costs
HS2 is lavishing an average of nearly £10million a year in pay on its top-earning directors.
The rail link project’s senior officials have collectively enjoyed pay packages totalling up to £49.5million over the last five years.
Chief executive Mark Thurston’s package alone surged by more than 9% last year, taking it from £618,144 to £676,763. It included a bonus of nearly £40,000.
Ruth Todd, HS2’s chief commercial officer, received a bonus of £21,760, taking her package to £313,055.
It comes as Rishi Sunak weighs up whether to scrap or delay another large section of the link after becoming alarmed at the spiralling costs.
HS2 chief executive Mark Thurston’s (pictured) package alone surged by more than 9% last year, taking it from £618,144 to £676,763
Rishi Sunak (pictured) is currently deciding whether to delay or cancel another large portion of the link
Former Conservative leader William Hague has become the latest high-profile figure to criticise HS2, branding it a ‘national disgrace’ that has been ‘terribly badly managed’.
He told Times Radio yesterday: ‘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.’
Mr. Sunak is looking at whether to axe or delay the Birmingham to Manchester leg of HS2. A planned ‘eastern leg’ linking Birmingham and Leeds was axed in 2021.
But despite the rising costs, former chancellor George Osborne and ex-Conservative deputy prime minister Lord Heseltine are among several Tory big beasts who argue it would be a ‘gross act of vandalism’ to stop building HS2 in the Midlands.
Richard Bowker, who was head of the former Strategic Rail Authority, told the BBC that dropping the Birmingham to Manchester leg would also be a ‘very, very stupid thing’ as HS2 provides the infrastructure for the planned Northern Powerhouse Rail, or HS3.
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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