The construction timetable for HS2 has taken another setback. HS2 Ltd have released a complete timetable for delivering four stations in London and Birmingham, which has put back their delivery by at least a year, and surely as a consequence the completion of Phase 1 of the project.
As part of his ‘HS2 Plus’ report, published in March 2014, Sir David Higgins produced a Gannt Chart showing the proposed construction timetables for stations, clearly stating that construction of both the proposed Birmingham stations would commence at the start of 2018 and complete in 2024. The London stations would start later, Old Oak Common towards the end of 2018 finishing in 2025, and Euston starting in 2020 because of the preparatory works required.
Since then, it has been reported that some of the preparatory works in Camden are underway, and when the revised fourth version of the Euston design was revealed last year, a new timetable indicating construction would start in 2017 was produced. Because HS2 at Euston would now be built in phases, construction for the project would not complete until 2033, with there being a further unknown ‘B2’ phase of construction which would be the responsibility of Network Rail.
This changed yesterday, when Building Design and Construction Magazine stated a recent announcement about station construction from HS2 Ltd is “providing optimism and a sense of anticipation for the works to begin”. By deciding to go for powder-puff propaganda instead of attempting any sort of responsible journalism, they completely missed what the actual story contained in the document released to them by HS2 Ltd was.
They did report the important bit, they just didn’t spot what it meant:
“It is expected that the contracts for the construction of the stations will go out to tender during Q1 of 2018, with preferred bidders set to then be announced in the early stages of 2019.”
Before going on to hit the bar again, stating:
“The schedule for completion on the three new stations to be built pencilled in for 2026.”
Whilst the completion of Euston station is still scheduled for 2033 due to Phase 2 works taking place after Phase 1 works are complete, the completion of Old Oak Common has drifted a year, and the two new Birmingham stations have now moved back two years. Following the completion of construction, a testing and commissioning process must be completed before HS2 can open, which was meant to last for at least a year after all Phase 1 construction is completed.
With station completion being pushed back to 2026, after which testing has to take place, the scheduled Boxing Day 2026 opening of HS2 must have been knocked back from into at least 2027, more likely 2028 or even beyond.
Stop HS2 Campaign Manager Joe Rukin said:
“HS2 Ltd have released a timetable which says they will only start tendering for station construction when they previously thought there would be spades in the ground. It is clear that if the stations in Birmingham and London are going to be a year or two later than previously thought, then the proposed opening of HS2 for Boxing Day 2026 is no longer on the cards.”
“It is no surprise that HS2 Ltd have failed to hit their timetable, as with breath-taking incompetence as standard, they have missed every single deadline so far. Sadly it is also no surprise that they haven’t been upfront and honest about this delay, but instead have relied on the construction trade press to put a positive spin on their failure, hoping no-one would notice that in the last two years, they have lost two years.”