The firm building the HS2 rail link has denied that it is three years late after campaigners claimed that it has yet to start on sections where work should have begun in 2016.
Campaign Group Stop HS2 cited a number of projects cited in the scheme’s 2013 Environmental Statement, which was presented to Parliament, where construction works appear to have been delayed.
These include Euston station, ‘where pre-demolition surveys are expected to still be going on until at least July 2019, despite the fact all demolitions were originally scheduled to have finished in 2017’.
It also includes the Hillingdon Outdoor Activity Centre (HOAC), which the Environmental Statement said would close for the rerouting of overhead power lines in ‘Summer 2016’, although a recent newsletter from HOAC states that it expects to remain open through the 2019 season, and possibly into 2020.
An HS2 Ltd spokesman said: ‘The 2013 Environmental Statement is not a programme of construction works and to confuse the two is wrong and misleading. Following public consultation and Parliamentary process, and the appointment of Early Works contractors, the more detailed programme of works was developed.
'HS2 remains on track with construction works well underway on 60 sites across the route from London to Birmingham.’
The firm said that following discussions between contractors and HOAC it was agreed that its land was not needed immediately and more time was given for HOAC to relocate.
Last week, HS2 Ltd announced that it had completed the demolition of the former carriage sheds at Euston (pictured), which it described as a major milestone that will help pave the way for the arrival of specialist tunnelling teams on site next year.
Stop HS2 pointed out that a document entitled ‘HS2 Phase One Construction Timetable’, which is currently available on the HS2 Ltd website, states: ‘The construction and commissioning of the Proposed Scheme project is expected to take place in stages between 2017 and the end of 2026, with some enabling works starting in 2016.
'The programme and planning assumptions for the construction is set out in Section 2 of each Environmental Statement Community Forum Area Report.’
The campaign group pointed to claims from HS2 Ltd that construction work has started in many areas, including a plaque unveiled in Birmingham last week by transport secretary Chris Grayling.
It said that whilst enabling works have begun in many areas, final designs do not as yet exist for either the trackbed or the stations.
Campaign manager Joe Rukin said: ‘It is abundantly clear that the vast majority of HS2 construction is about three years late, but the deeply alarming response to this from politicians and HS2 Ltd alike is to lie and cynically rebrand the enabling works as “construction”.’
‘It is unbelievably deceitful, when there are still no final designs for either the 140 miles of Phase 1 track or any of the stations, for anyone to try and claim construction of HS2 has started.’