HS2 train line might not arrive at Euston until 2041, Labour tells Commons
he HS2 high-speed rail line may not arrive at Euston for almost 20 years, it was claimed in the Commons on Tuesday.
Labour shadow transport secretary Louise Haigh said leaked Government documents “suggest it will terminate on the outskirts of London until 2041”.
Her remarks appear to confirm fears that Old Oak Common, a new interchange station being built in north-west London, will become HS2’s London terminus until Euston’s HS2 station is finally finished after construction was delayed in a bid to ease soaring costs on the £100bn-plus project.
Ms Haigh said the leaked document “blows apart” claims from Transport Secretary Mark Harper that slowing HS2’s construction would ease cash-flow worries without causing wider harm.
She said the document showed that the delays would increase HS2’s costs and would cost jobs and potentially put some construction firms out of business.
She told MPs: “They suggest [HS2] could terminate on the outskirts of London until 2041. Isn’t it time the minister came clean? This absurd plan will hit jobs, hurt growth, and cost taxpayers even more.”
She added: “Even the Government has lost faith in this Government, and little wonder. Is there anything more emblematic of this failed Government than their flagship levelling up project that neither makes it to the North or to central London?”
Transport minister Huw Merriman, who was summoned to the Commons to answer an urgent question after the Department for Transport dodged questions on HS2 by only providing a written statement to Parliament last week, apologised for the Government’s “discourteous” approach.
He said the first phase of HS2 – between Old Oak Common and Birmingham Curzon Street stations – would be open “by 2033”, which is at the very end of the current proposed opening window.
He said the design for Euston’s HS2 station – which is being built alongside the mainline station – would be reviewed to ensure an “affordable station design”.
But Euston has already been scaled back from 11 platforms to 10 – a decision that has already wasted £105.6m. Prior to last Thursday’s announcement, Euston was due to open between 2031-36.
Mr Merriman told MPs: “We will not proceed with construction in the next two years at Euston due to affordability.”
It is not clear what this will mean in practice – there are already hundreds of workers on site at Euston, years of land clearances have taken place, residents have been moved from their homes and the rail tunnels from north-west London are being dug.
Labour MP Andy Slaughter, who represents Hammersmith, said the “indefinite delay” in opening Euston station had negative “game-changing consequences” for Londoners as it would delay the release of HS2 land around Euston and Old Oak Common.
Last week Mayor Sadiq Khan warned that using Old Oak Common as the HS2 terminus would be disastrous as it would lead to massive overcrowding on the Elizabeth line, which HS2 passengers would have to use to reach central London or Heathrow.