HS2 hires Andy Taylor to lead public affairs as rail route consultations continue

The controversial proposed high-speed rail link from London to the north of England, HS2, has hired Andy Taylor as head of public affairs.

Lobbyists: Supporters of the HS2 rail link at Westminster
Lobbyists: Supporters of the HS2 rail link at Westminster

Taylor will join on 7 May from the Association of Train Operating Companies, where he has been head of public affairs since 2009.

He will report to Clinton Leeks, director of external and parliamentary relations at HS2, which is a Government-backed company.

Taylor will be responsible for building relationships with national and local elected representatives as HS2 negotiates two key stages.

Phase one of the line, which will run from London to the West Midlands, is due to begin construction in 2017, but first the Government has to obtain the legal powers to build and operate it through a hybrid bill in Parliament.

Phase two, from the West Midlands to Leeds and Manchester, is at an earlier stage and the proposed route is going through a public consultation.

Taylor’s £70,000-a-year role includes running a social media campaign to combat opponents’ lobbying efforts.

In March, the Government largely overcame five judicial reviews brought by four protest groups, including 18 councils, campaign group High Speed 2 Action Alliance and a golf club. It won nine out of ten points.

High Court judge Mr Justice Ouseley upheld the challenge that the consultation process on compensation for affected property owners was ‘fundamentally unfair’. 

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