HS2 ‘should be cancelled’ amid reports it may not run to central London


look behind one HS2 review commissioned by ex-prime minister Boris Johnson has said the entire project should be scrapped amid reports the high-speed line may not reach its exchange London end point at Euston due to rising costs.

Gentleman Berkeley called for the diversion of the tens of billions of pounds invested in the project to improve Britain’s mainline rail services.

Rising inflation means the redeveloped Euston station may not open until 2038 and could be completely scrapped with trains instead of stopping at a new interchange at Old Oak Common in the west London suburbs, according to The Sun.

The paper also reported that a delay of two to five years for the entire project is being considered.

A Department for Transport (DfT) report, published less than three years ago, described Euston as “an important part of realizing the benefits” of HS2.

On Friday, the department said the project faces significant inflationary pressures.

What’s the point of building HS2 to get to Birmingham? I think the whole thing should be canceled

Phase one of HS2 includes the construction of the London to Birmingham rail line, with the line extended from the West Midlands to Crewe in Phase 2a.

Phase 2b will link Crewe to Manchester and the West Midlands to the East Midlands.

The planned extension to Leeds was suspended in November 2021.

A DfT spokesperson said: “The government remains committed to delivering HS2 to Manchester, as confirmed in the autumn statement.

“As well as supporting tens of thousands of jobs, the project will link regions across the UK, improve capacity on our railways and provide a greener way to travel.”

Lord Berkeley was Deputy Chair of the Oakervee Review into HS2, commissioned by Mr Johnson in August 2019.

The then Prime Minister gave the track a green light to proceed in February 2020, despite warnings that the total cost could reach £106bn (at 2019 prices).

Lord Berkeley, a longtime skeptic of the project, told the PA news agency that Old Oak Common could only have capacity for about half of Euston’s trains.

He said: “There’s not enough room for (to be the London terminal) so they couldn’t do it, except maybe (for) a shuttle service from Birmingham.

“What’s the point of building HS2 to get to Birmingham?

“I think the whole thing should be canceled.”

He claimed that investment in the project “would be much better spent improving the rail lines to the north, east and west than getting to London a little faster”.

The project will link regions across the UK

Complexity around the Euston site meant that high-speed services would already temporarily start and end at Old Oak Common, with passengers using the Elizabeth line to travel to and from central London.

That would add at least half an hour to travel to and from Euston.

A “full business case” for HS2 published by the DfT in April 2020 stated that the target time frame for the launch of services between Old Oak Common and Birmingham was 2029-2033, while for trains between Euston and North West England the range is 2031- 2036 was. .

The document also stated: “Euston is an important part of realizing the benefits of HS2 and that work should continue on the section from Old Oak Common to Euston.

“Nevertheless, Euston is a very challenging, complex large program and, given its current status, Old Oak Common is expected to function as a temporary terminus for a period of time.”

Rail magazine editor-in-chief Nigel Harris described the demolition of HS2’s Euston station as “catastrophic” as there would be “no incentive” for people to transfer from West Coast Main Line services.

He said: “When you fly to Heathrow, you don’t want to go to Southend. That is, in fact, what you would do.”

Mr Harris added that Euston is “being built right now” with billions of pounds already spent on preparatory work and buying property.

Construction of a 4.5-mile tunnel between Old Oak Common and Euston was expected to begin in 2024 and take two years to complete.

HS2 has been dogged by criticism over its financial and environmental impact.

Last October, Leveling Up Secretary Michael Gove suggested that capital investment for HS2 be reviewed, but Chancellor Jeremy Hunt subsequently backed the project.

The targeted cost of phase one was £40.3bn at 2019 prices.

In 2015, a budget of £55.7 billion for the whole of HS2 was set.