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RCEA Annual Conference – HS2 - Taking the project forward

Event organised by Railway Civil Engineers' Association

28 April 2022

This event has now ended


HS2 is a state-of-the-art, high-speed line critical for the UK’s low carbon transport future. It will provide much-needed rail capacity across the country, and is integral to rail projects in the North and Midlands – helping rebalance the UK economy.

By moving long-distance traffic from our current rail network onto HS2’s new high-speed line, we will create the extra room needed to improve local, regional and freight services.

HS2 trains will be powered by zero-carbon energy from day one of operation, offering a cleaner alternative to long-distance car journeys and domestic flights. This commitment will play a key part in supporting HS2 Ltd’s aim to make the project net zero carbon from 2035, with targets of diesel-free construction sites and reducing the carbon content of steel and concrete.

This Railway Civil Engineers Association event, both in-person at the ICE and online, will give an update as the project moves forwards. The event will include:

  • Networking buffet lunch at ICE, One Great George Street, London
  • Key Note Speech – HS2 Project Update by David Coles, Chief Engineer at DfT
  • HS2 Stations – Creating 21st-century transport hubs talk by Ian Blight, HS2 Stations Technical Director
  • HS2 Track – Linking the Network talk by Gheorghe Nicoara, HS2 Head of Track Engineering
  • HS2 Phase 2 – Planning & Delivering the Next Phase – presentation by Dr Alistair Hitchcock, HS2 Phase 2 Head of Engineering


13:45 - 14:00


14:00 - 14:05

Introduction & Welcome – Jonathan Buttery, RCEA Chair

14:05 - 14:20

HS2 Key Note Speech – David Coles, Chief Engineer, DfT

14:20 - 14:40

HS2 Stations – Ian Blight, Stations Technical Director

14:40 - 15:00

HS2 Track – Gheorghe Nicoara, Head of Track Engineering

15:00 - 15:15

Audience Q&A

15:15 - 15:30


15:30 - 16:00

HS2 Phase 2 Planning & Delivering the Next Phase – Alistair Hitchcock

16:00 - 16:30

Audience Q&A

16:30 - 16:35

Round-Up and Meeting Closed


David Coles

David Coles

Department for Transport

chief engineer

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David Coles

David joined the Department for Transport’s High Speed 2 Rail Group in 2016 and was appointed chief engineer for the whole department in 2020. He leads a team advising on technical and operational aspects of DfT’s infrastructure projects, their influence on cost, value and risk and where we should be looking to innovate. 

He is a chartered civil engineer and director and fellow of both those institutions and former chairman of the Railway Civil Engineers’ Association.

In 2020 he completed the Infrastructure Project Authority’s Major Projects Leadership Academy and in 2021 he was elected to ICE Council.

Ian Blight

Ian Blight

HS2 Stations

technical director

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Ian Blight

Ian is currently HS2’s Stations Technical Director, as a member of the Engineering Delivery Partner, and is also Jacob’s Global Director for High Speed Rail.

Ian commenced work on HS2 as the Head of Delivery, managing the work of the Profession Services Consultants who together with HS2, deposited the Phase 1 Bill in 2013 and then technically supported the Bill’s passage through Parliament until it’s Royal Assent in 2017. Since then, Ian has been in his current role on HS2 as the design, procurement and construction of the Phase 1 stations have progressed.

Gheorghe Nicoara

Gheorghe Nicoara


head of track engineering

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Gheorghe Nicoara

Gheorghe is a Fellow of ICE and joined HS2 team in 2020 as a Head of Track Engineering. He leads the track alignment, gauging, track system and survey team responsible for all track engineering and railway system survey across the HS2 phase 1, 2a and 2b. He is also the track subject matter expert and owner of all track and survey related standards.

Dr Alistair Hitchcock

Dr Alistair Hitchcock


head of engineering

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Dr Alistair Hitchcock

Alistair is a Chartered Civil Engineer and Fellow of the ICE with over 20 years experience in the design and delivery of major transportation infrastructure both in the UK and Australia. He holds an Engineering Doctorate in innovative underground construction from the University of Southampton, and has worked predominantly in design consultancy at Mott MacDonald and Capita Infrastructure. He has held key leadership roles during the planning, design and implementation stages on metro, rail and high speed rail projects including Crossrail, Melbourne Metro and London Underground station upgrades.

Since 2012 Alistair has led the development of the hybrid Bill design for three sections of HS2 covering Phase 1 and Phase 2b totalling 190km of route length. He was appointed head of engineering for Phase 2 at HS2 Ltd in 2021, with responsibility for all technical and engineering aspects of the Phase 2 route.

Alistair has been involved with the ICE for over 20 years on various panels and committees including ICE Council (2012-15). He has been a Professional Reviewer since 2015 and currently co-chairs the ICE Professional Review Panel.

For more information please contact:

Elira Alushi