Campaigners against HS2 have criticised the public body running the project for planning disruptive works before the scheme gets parliamentary approval.
It has emerged that enabling works for the high speed rail link at London’s Euston Station will cause significant disruption for existing rail operators from the end of this year.
An artist's impression of HS2 at Euston
Virgin Trains told the Times that it was likely to run fewer trains on Sundays because of the work while The Caledonian Sleeper said it was in negotiations with HS2 Ltd in an attempt to minimise ‘disruption to our passengers’.
Joe Rukin, Stop HS2 campaign manager, said: ‘It is completely bizarre that work for HS2 is allowed to start before the Bill for the railway has passed through Parliament, but this is typical of the gung-ho attitude to the project.
'Having said that, this is actually another indicator that HS2 is behind schedule, as they had wanted to start the enabling work a year ago.’
An HS2 Ltd spokesman said: ‘HS2 will ultimately provide much-needed new platform space at Euston and capacity across our whole rail network which needs to grow to cope with the continued demands being placed on it.
‘This will inevitably mean some interim disruption so we are planning well in advance and are determined to ensure that passengers are inconvenienced as little as possible. HS2 Ltd is working closely with Network Rail, TfL and train operators to learn from previous experience and best practice elsewhere to ensure disruption is minimised.’
Stop HS2 also claimed that the government-owned company has challenged the right of half the petitioners against the HS2 Hybrid Bill, including eight MPs, to be heard by the House of Lords committee scrutinising it.
It said HS2 Ltd had tried to stop 414 out of 821 petitions being heard, including one from Commons speaker John Bercow.
Stop HS2 Chair Penny Gaines said: ‘It’s absolutely astounding that HS2 Ltd should issue so many challenges. But HS2 Ltd are being true to form. They were criticised recently by the Parliamentary Ombudsman for their attitude to the communities affected by HS2, and these challenges are just a continuation of that.'
The company told Transport Network that it was in fact the Department for Transport (DfT) challenging the petitioners.
A DfT spokesperson said: ‘Over 2,300 people and organisations have already been given the opportunity to have their say on the HS2 Bill, and some those have sought to have their petition heard again by the Lords. At this stage of the process, it is within parliamentary rules that only those whose property or interests are directly and specially affected can put their case to the Select Committee.’
It has also been reported that the review of HS2’s costs led by Sir Jeremy Heywood, Britain’s most senior civil servant, could see proposed stations at Manchester airport and Sheffield’s Meadowhall shopping centre ditched to save money.