HS2 might not get to open its Euston station until 2040, the Transport Secretary Mark Harper has confirmed to MPs in Parliament, as it wont open before HS2 opens its extension to Manchester.

Proposed Euston station (c) HS2

He also confirmed that the delays to Euston are unlikely to save any money, although that was the reason given for delaying its opening in the first place.

Telling the transport select committee, he said that the changes “reflect the fact that you have a budget in each year, everybody listening to this has to live within their annual budget, as well as a budget over time.”

This fits in with a document that the Labour Party says was leaked to it following the announcement of the previous delay suggesting that the delay was less about saving money, and more about the central government reducing the annual borrowing required each year, which is achieved by spreading the borrowing over more years.

HS2 has also confirmed that they will be delaying work on the Old Oak Common to Euston station tunnels to reflect the changes in priority to focus on the section up to Birmingham.

The tunnel boring machines were due to depart from Old Oak Common towards Euston next year, but that’s now been deferred. The delay cannot be too long though, as they need to launch the TBMs from Old Oak Common before they can start fit-out work for the station. Delaying the Euston tunnel by more than a year would risk pushing back the opening date of Old Oak Common station.

Although Mr Harper reiterated his support for completing the line to Euston, he also said that it “was significantly ahead of the budget that is available and that’s why I’ve taken the decision to pause construction of that project,”

He also explained that the delay to the Euston project would see it likely open at around the same time as HS2 reaches Manchester, which is not expected to be until some point between 2035-2040.

The delays to opening the line also delay or even reduce many of the benefits of the HS2 project. Phase 1 of HS2 (from London to Birmingham) was assessed as ‘low’ value for money; it was only the inclusion of the northern sections of the route that increased the overall value for money.

Pushing back the opening of Euston station, means that the full capacity increase offered by HS2 can’t be realised until the Manchester leg opens. And that means the full capacity gains for local and regional railways across much of middle England are also delayed.

It’s true that Old Oak Common station can just about cope with traffic between London and Birmingham in terms of trains turning around, it would need the capacity of Euston to handle the additional trains going to/from Manchester.

The downside is that thousands of people will be arriving at Old Oak Common and needing to swap to other services to complete their journey into central London, and TfL has already warned that it will need to buy more Elizabeth line trains to be able to cope with the passenger numbers.

A small optimistic note about the delays is that it pretty much forces the government to push on with HS2 from Birmingham to Manchester, even as other spurs are cut back, as the opening of Euston station is now implicitly tied in with the Manchester extension.

The Institute for Government has previously said that the drip-feed announcements of delays to the HS2 railway are “a depressing account of what is wrong with decision-making on large scale infrastructure projects in the UK”

In the meantime, Mr Harper said that they would be vacating the Euston side in a “sensible way for the next couple of years that is sensible for people who live in the area”.

“Then we’re going to go back and look at coming up with a more cost-effective design for Euston,” he added.

However, it’s likely that Euston station will be an empty building site for a couple of years with locked gates and dust billowing around to blight the area for the people who work and live there.


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  1. Sykobee says:

    I bet this will result in adding billions onto the final cost of the project, as there is a cost to halting near-future planned and contracted works, and then restarting them down the line. Never mind rejigging all the logistics to prevent impacting the remaining stump of HS2.

    Never mind the extra ~10 Liz trains required (or earlier-than-expected extension to 11 (?) carriages, that surely is simpler to timetable?)

    What is a more cost effective solution than the already cost-reduced Euston plan?

  2. Why On Earth Would You Do This? says:

    Terrible decision making by the Tory government yet again. Delaying the opening of Euston is inevitably going to cost a lot of money and severely affect the capability of the line when it initially opens.

    Ending the line at Old Oak Common is a terrible idea. Quite literally, there is nothing there right now. Can they really expect to build OOC, 2 new overground stations, and develop an entire brand new area to handle thousands of passengers in less than 10 years? Or will it open as just an interchange between HS2 and the Elizabeth line, leaving hundreds of passengers to rush off their train and pile onto the first Lizzie line train in order to go anywhere useful.

  3. Ian says:

    I assume they are keeping the poor station design for Manchester that will not integrate with HS3 or allow trains to continue to Liverpool.

  4. Alex Mckenna says:

    Incompetence added to their individual greed and dishonesty – what a bunch they are.

  5. Keith says:

    Hopefully a possible change in government in the next couple years might see this reversed. Currently it’s a short term borrowing ‘saving’, resulting in likely far greater costs in the long term.

  6. Robert says:

    As pointed out on this fine website, and elsewhere, getting HS2 into revenue earning service is the best way of balancing the books. So:
    1) Build the Euston tunnels;
    2) Create a temporary connection into platforms 12-16;
    3) Start running existing services over HS2 (ICS allows 140MPH running);
    4) Supplement with extra trains from OOC as the stock becomes available.

    • Mike says:

      That would involve someone using common sense!

      The money will have to be borrowed anyway, so they should borrow it now get both the Euston and Manchester lines started, stop buggering up both station designs (which means building the Manchester station underground as a through station to accommodate NPR/HS3).

      The project could then create hundreds if not thousands of apprenticeships and jobs in the construction, manufacturing and ancillary industries to help get the country back on its feet, get the railway paying its way and refinance the debt as and when it becomes a viable option.

      Then as it is reaching completion, we could even start talking about extending it north to Scotland, or even West via a Channel Tunnel type arrangement to Northern Ireland.

  7. SteveP says:

    “As pointed out on this fine website, and elsewhere, getting HS2 into revenue earning service is the best way of balancing the books. So:

    2) Create a temporary connection into platforms 12-16;”

    It’s an interesting idea, but since the alignment of HS2 was lowered to negate the need to rebuild Hampstead Road Bridge (HRB) at a higher level, the vertical alignment is such that the gradient is too steep to get HS2 lines under HRB and up to existing Euston platform levels.

    Not to mention it is financially wasteful to build something to use for a few years, then knock it down and build something else – one would have to look at the costs of such a temporary measure versus the revenue it would generate (BCR and all that) and I doubt it would stack up. Whereas terminating at Old Oak Common and tipping pax onto the EL costs virtually nothing.

    • John says:

      Surely there is a modicum of spare platform capacity at Paddington, which was being used by the EL trains before through running.

    • Robert says:

      > the alignment of HS2 was lowered to negate the need to rebuild Hampstead Road Bridge (HRB) at a higher level

      OK – that would be a problem. I thought they may just be ideological about keeping HS2 and Classic services separate at Euston.

  8. bob london says:

    I, briefly, was a fan of this grand vision for a high speed railway to the North. Wasn’t it originally supposed to go to Edinburgh?

    The whole project has been pared back to such an extent that I now struggle to see the point of it.

    HS2 is good at publicising some of the icing-on-the-cake features, such as the tunnels and Colne Valley Viaduct, but are fairly silent on the environmental carnage they are committing out in ‘the sticks’.

    You can follow HS2’s trail of destruction from space via Google Earth.

    Via those images you can begin to appreciate how many hundreds of thousands of mature trees have been sacrificed for what, as I type, seems a fairly pointless stretch of railway between somewhere near London and somewhere near Birmingham.

    If you bother to check out the Street View images from these HS2 sites you’ll be able to tot up hundreds of ‘workers’ in Hi-Vis standing around, hands in pockets or checking their phones. You and I are paying them to stand around doing sweet FA.

    It’s no surprise then that the cost of this white elephant has gone through the roof and, ironically, HS2 itself, through its diabolical mismanagement and waste, has ensured that the grand plan to connect the cities of the north with London will never be realised.

    HS2 is a nasty outfit: strong on promises but, away from the media-friendly areas, they constantly break promises made to local communities about construction traffic, road closures, noise etc; they pay for the ‘service’ that the National Eviction Team thugs provide to harrass and monitor people going about their daily business on public land that may lie close to sacred HS2 sites. The list goes on.

    Anyway, the damage has been already been done, the money has been trousered and all this destruction will result in 90 miles of new railway between Old Oak Common and Curzon Street in Birmingham.

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