Sir Jonathan Thompson has been named as HS2 Ltd Chair. The appointment, which follows almost a year as Deputy Chair, comes as the Crewe-Manchester Bill moves through Parliament.

In his role, Sir Jonathan Thompson – who was made a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath in the 2019 New Year Honours list – will be providing strategic leadership, oversight, and accountability for the HS2 programme.

A member of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants and the Chartered Institute of Public Finance, he will stand down from his current role as the Chief Executive of the Financial Reporting Council.  

As well as being the largest infrastructure project in Europe, HS2 is also spearheading new methods of construction such as 2000-tonne tunnel boring machines and using new technology to ensure the natural landscape across the route is left in the same, if not better, condition than it was found.  

“I am delighted to appoint Sir Jonathan as Chair, and with his breadth of experience I have no doubt he will be successful in delivering our shared goals of increasing capacity on our rail network, levelling up our country, and driving economic growth for generations to come,” said Transport Secretary Mark Harper.

Sir Jonathan previously served as the Permanent Secretary at both the Ministry of Defence and HM Revenue and Customs. Since stepping into the Deputy Chair role in March 2022, he has overseen the provision of 1,000 apprenticeships and the completion of the first one-mile of tunnels at Long Itchington Wood.  

The appointment comes in the same week that HS2 Ltd has come under fire, with accusations of inaccurately reporting the impact of the high-speed rail project on natural habitats.

“I am delighted to have been appointed as HS2 Ltd Chair. During my time on the Board, this monumental project has already achieved some incredible milestones and I’ve seen first-hand how it will transform not only journeys but the lives of people across the country,” said Sir Jonathan.

“I look forward to working with our first-class stakeholders and partners in my new role, to ensure this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity fulfils its pioneering potential.”

Elaine Holt, an existing Non-Executive Director, has also been appointed as Deputy Chair of the HS2 Ltd Board.