HS2 hits a buffer as inflation forces governments to slow network crews and Euston’s feet

Transportation Secretary Mark Harper has announced that “inflationary pressures” will delay construction of a major portion of the HS2 high-speed rail line.

in writing ministerial statementHarper said the Birmingham to Crew line was delayed by two years and the final leg from Old Oak Common in west London to Euston in central London would not be ready until sometime in the 2040s.

The first priority is the section from Old Oak Common to Birmingham’s Curzon Street station, but plans for the next section (from England’s second largest city north to the important rail junction town of Crewe) are behind schedule.

Harper said: Given the significant inflationary pressures and increasing project costs, he postpones construction for two years with the aim of providing high-speed service to Crewe and the Northwest as soon as possible given the delays in construction. “

The original plan was for HS2 to arrive at Crewe by 2030 or at the latest by 2034, facilitating transport in the north of England.

But Mr Harper said he was forced to prioritize the first London-to-Birmingham leg.

HS2’s arrival in the center of the capital also created major problems on the final leg of the line.

Station redesign needed for Euston

in October, new civil engineer The Department of Transport reported that it acknowledged that “key elements” of Euston station’s initial design could no longer be used and that the number of platforms had to be reduced from 11 to 10.

Epoch Times photo
A couple walk past the HS2 construction site in Euston, central London, 27 January 2023. (PA)

Harper said on Friday: Therefore, we will take our time to ensure an affordable and feasible station design, providing Euston and high-speed infrastructure to Manchester. “

This means that once the first part of HS2 is completed, passengers arriving in central London (e.g. on a Eurostar train from Europe) wishing to travel to Birmingham will take the Elizabeth Line and get off at Old Oak Common in West London. need to do it. HS2.

But Harper was optimistic about the project, which has come under a fair share of criticism since it was first announced by then-Prime Minister David Cameron in 2013.

Harper said: “HS2 is on track and has already spent over £20bn to deliver Phase 1 between London and the West Midlands, supporting 2,500 businesses and creating over 29,000 jobs. ‘ said.

Critics of HS2 say that if the trip from London to Birmingham can only be shortened by 29 minutes, it has a huge environmental impact and is well worth the money.

“Comedy Implosion”

Following Harper’s statement, Joe Rukin, founder of campaign group Stop HS2, said: Predictably tragic. “

Rukin says: What you want to build may not fit in the space they have. “

HS2’s budget was originally set at £55.7bn in 2015 and has now increased to £71bn.

Epoch Times photo
HS2 construction workers drive past the grounds of Euston station in central London on 27 January 2023. (PA)

John Foster, Policy Unit Program Director, Confederation of British Industry, said: Communication network. “

Shadow Transport Secretary Louise Hay said the north of England was “again being asked to pay the price for the Conservative Party’s staggering failure”.

West Midlands Mayor Andy Street said the restructuring of HS2 was a “huge disappointment” and London Mayor Sadiq Khan said it was not feasible to transport passengers by train from Old Oak Common to central London for long periods. I said no.

He said: “Hundreds of millions of pounds have been spent on the regeneration of the Euston area, with homes and businesses being demolished to make way for HS2, causing massive disruption for zero rewards”.

But Foreign Secretary James Cleverley, when asked about HS2 during an appearance on Times Radio on Friday, said people need to be “realistic” about the project.

He said it was the biggest investment in rail “since the Victorian era”, adding: “We are investing huge amounts when it comes to rail travel, but if COVID has a major impact on the economy, it is not realistic. There has to be. Respond to that.”

PA Media contributed to this report.