Will Britain’s bloated ‘£106BN’ high-speed rail project EVER reach London? Government refuses to rubbish report claiming HS2 bosses are weighing up scrapping its Euston terminus due to rampant inflation
- Officials refused to confirm if the HS2 will terminate in central London at Euston
- Reports claim the project may be delayed until 2038 or scrapped completely
- Government says it ‘remains committed to delivering HS2 to Manchester’
The Government has refused to confirm that Britain’s £106billion high-speed rail project will reach its central London terminus at Euston following reports that it may be delayed or scrapped.
HS2 bosses are considering delaying the project until 2038 or even scrapping it completely due to soaring inflation, The Sun reported.
Trains would instead stop at a new hub at Old Oak Common in west London’s suburbs rather than continuing all the way to the city centre. Commuters would then have to finish their journeys into central London by using the Elizabeth Line.
The paper also reported that a two-to-five-year delay to the entire project is being considered.
The Government has refused to confirm that Britain’s £106billion high-speed rail project will reach its central London terminus at Euston following reports that it may be delayed or scrapped. Pictured: The HS2 High Speed Rail 2 West Ruislip Portal construction sit
The HS2 rail project is set to link London, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds
‘The Government remains committed to delivering HS2 to Manchester, as confirmed in the autumn statement,’ a Department for Transport spokesman told MailOnline.
‘As well as supporting tens of thousands of jobs, the project will connect regions across the UK, improve capacity on our railways and provide a greener option of travel.’
Service from Old Oak Green to Birmingham is slated to begin in 2033, but insiders told The Sun they have ‘extreme doubt’ the target launch date will be hit.
They also argued that delaying Euston would cause a trickle down effect on the time for the rest of the project.
The HS2 rail project – which is set to link London, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds in a bid to rebalance the UK’s economy – has been called ‘expensive, wasteful and destructive’ by environmentalists.
Critics claim the line will destroy or irreparably damage 108 ancient woodlands and 693 wildlife sites, and that Euston Square Gardens will be built over with a temporary taxi rank before being sold off to developers.
Last October, Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove suggested capital investment for HS2 would be reviewed, but Chancellor Jeremy Hunt subsequently backed the project.
The target cost of Phase One between London and Birmingham was £40.3billion at 2019 prices. However, a report presented to the HS2 board by deputy chair Sir Jon Thompson last year said it was ‘very unlikely’ that price point would be achieved.
The Government says it ‘remains committed to delivering HS2 to Manchester.’ Pictured: HS2 CEO Mark Thurston (left) pushes the button to start HS2’s tunnel boring machine under Long Itchington Wood in Warwickshire in December 2021
Trains would instead stop at a new hub at Old Oak Common in west London’s suburbs rather than continuing all the way to the city centre. Pictured: A concept image of the proposed Old Oak Common Station, west London
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The scene of the crash in Carmont, Aberdeenshire, in 2020 when three people were killed after a ScotRail train derailed
Insiders allege subcontractors have warned HS2 bosses that contracts cannot be fulfilled due to the rising costs of concrete, steel and labour.
Construction industry inflation is higher than the price rises impacting UK families, sources told The Sun, adding that the project will likely have cost more than £60billion by the time the first train runs.
A former employee, speaking to the newspaper on the basis of anonymity, noted that while there are several options to reduce costs, ‘none of them are very nice.’
‘Either you scrap Euston, or you have to slow down the whole project and hope inflation comes down,’ the ex-HS2 worker argued.
The Government previously said the ‘funding envelope’ for the first phase of the project is £44.6billion, including a £4.3billion contingency package.
Leaked documents, dated June 2022, reportedly concluded there was only a 50 per cent chance the extra contingency budget would be enough to cover the total costs.
Sir Jon was appointed as a non-executive director of HS2 Ltd in April 2021, and became deputy chair in March 2022. His review is reported to state that the first phase’s total cost was likely to be ‘many billions more than the reported estimate’.
Pictured: An artist’s impression of the HS2 train on the Birmingham and Fazeley viaduct
Sir Jon’s report allegedly also warned rising inflation is presenting a ‘significant and growing challenge’ for the project.
He said the decision to record costs in 2019 prices means none of the figures reflect ‘what has been or is being paid’.
The project has already tripled in cost since it was approved a decade ago. A budget of £55.7billion for the whole of HS2 was set in 2015.
The Government sparked anger in November 2021 when it published its Integrated Rail Plan (IRP), which included scrapping HS2’s eastern leg between the East Midlands and Leeds.
In September 2021, Conservative MP for North West Leicestershire Andrew Bridgen told Parliament he had received information from a whistleblower within HS2 Ltd, who claimed the first phase of the line, running between London and Birmingham, will not open until 2041, some 10 years later than initially expected.
He told MPs: ‘Experts in the field estimate that the energy requirements of HS2 trains will be five time that of conventional rail.’
‘Can we have an extended debate on the impact of HS2 on Government’s energy policy and the level of subsidy this loss-making project will have to be supported with annually if it is ever built?
‘Could we have this debate before 2041, which is the date that my whistleblower at the very top of HS2 tells me the project for phase one will actually be able to carry passengers between London and Birmingham?’
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