Crossrail signal speed is essential in the search for a new chief executive

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The Independent Online

The search for the next chief executive of the £15bn Heathrow-to-Essex Crossrail megaproject has moved one step closer with the appointment of City headhunter Odgers Berndtson.

The current boss, Rob Holden, stunned the rail industry when he resigned last month less than two years into the job. Odgers, which won the role last week, has been asked to identify a shortlist quickly as the Crossrail chairman, Terry Morgan, wants a successor in place before Mr Holden leaves in July.

Mark Bayley, who succeeded Mr Holden as chief executive at London & Continental Railways (LCR), and Andy Mitchell, programme director at Crossrail, have both been linked with the job. It is understood that Nicola Shaw, the former boss of the bus division at transport giant FirstGroup, has also enquired about the role and is on the initial longlist.

Crossrail will also look overseas for candidates as there are few people in the UK with experience of managing such a major build programme.

Odgers has also been appointed to reconstruct the board of LCR. The company was best known for developing the high-speed Channel Tunnel rail link, but that project has been sold for £2.1bn to Borealis Infrastructure and the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan. What remains is essentially a property company, with huge swathes of land under development with private sector partners in Stratford, East London, and near King's Cross station.

LCR boss, David Joy, said that a new chairman and a non-executive director were necessary to reflect the transformation from what was essentially a railway company to a property developer.