News reports published today (Friday 27th January) suggest that HS2 Ltd and the government are considering how to deal with rising construction costs of the HS2 project. One of the options reportedly on the table is cancelling the final section into central London. The central London terminus at Euston would be dropped from the HS2 plans with trains terminating at Old Oak Common in West London.
Penny Gaines, Chair of Stop HS2, said
“Nothing in this report is a surprise. HS2 has always been a shambles, with the budget rising and the completion date vanishing into the distance.
“The budget for HS2 was underestimated in the first place. Even such obvious things as actually buying land was ignored. That’s before you get into the massive rises in construction costs that we’ve seen recently. They are now at the point of ditching fundamental parts of the project. They cancelled the link to Leeds after months of speculation, because it was too difficult to build it.
“HS2 have spent over a decade trying to find a design for Euston which works and they still haven’t got one.
“Meanwhile the justification for HS2 has collapsed. Stop HS2 have said since our inception that digital technologies are a real alternative to travel for business and this was shown to be true during the pandemic. Passenger numbers on the West Coast Main Line are running at two thirds of pre-pandemic numbers because people have experienced using videoconferencing.
“It’s time to stop tinkering around the edges and scrap HS2 in its entirety, use some of the money to repair the massive environmental damage already caused and look at 21st century solutions to the problems that we face now’”
Joe Rukin, Stop HS2 spokesperson, said
“The real problem with Euston is that the station they wanted couldn’t fit in the space they’ve got. It never could, and they just refused to accept this from day one, trying to pretend you didn’t have to park trains at a terminus while they were turned around. This is why there have six redesigns at Euston.
“In a blinkered rush to try and make HS2’uncancellable’, around Euston hundreds of people were thrown out of their homes, thousands have been living on a building site for years, and tens of thousands of bodies were torn from their graves, and now it may be that none of that had to happen.
“Part of the reason they scrapped the Leeds section was to solve that problem, but the real problem is has it has always been that government signed it off with no care how much it would cost, after heavy lobbying by the firms that wanted to get paid billions for building it.
“HS2 is a train that from the start has run on rhetoric, wishful thinking and greed, and this sort of mess will continue for as long as vested interests dictate policy.”