Railway to nowhere? Sunak 'mulls HS2 Euston axe'


Behind-the-scenes discussions over cuts to HS2 could see the London Euston terminus scrapped, with cash saved potentially used to upgrade Northern Powerhouse Rail, it has been reported.

The Times said it understands that as well as scrapping the section of the high-speed rail line between Birmingham and Manchester, the prime minister is also looking at ending it at the Old Oak Common terminus, saving ‘at least £4.8bn’.

The planned triple-level station at Old Oak Common

It said ‘a senior government source’ had claimed that Rishi Sunak had ‘made up his mind’ to scrap both the Manchester link and the line running into Euston.

The prime minister would instead pledge to prioritise Northern Powerhouse Rail, with the potential to use savings to upgrade the project so that a new high-speed rail link would run from Liverpool to Leeds.

The ‘source’ argued that the move would mean the Government had spent most of the money but with almost none of the benefit, and described ending the line at Old Oak Common as ‘pretty much the definition of a railway to nowhere’, the Times said.

Over the last week, ministers, including chancellor Jeremy Hunt, have refused to commit to completing the line in full.

Shadow transport secretary Louise Haigh said on Monday morning that Labour is ‘committed to delivering HS2 in full and maximising its economic benefits’.

However, Labour Peer Tony Berkeley, a longstanding critic of the project, said retaining the parts of HS2 where construction has started and converting it into a useful railway for local and regional services ‘would at least prevent a permanent eyesore’, adding that Old Oak Common would work well as a terminus connecting to the Elizabeth line, saving £12bn.

Lord Berkeley, who has consistently argued that the actual costs of the project are much higher than Department for Transport (DfT) figures, said it is currently set to cost £180bn at 2023 prices.

He called on the Public Accounts Committee to review the scheme’s costs, arguing that its acceptance of the DfT’s figures ‘reflects badly on [its] ability to hold ministers to account'.

comments powered by Disqus