Facing fast rising construction costs, the U.K. government has delayed the next stage of the high-speed railroad project HS2 while casting doubt over timing of the London terminal at Euston. Originally planned to open around 2033, the roughly 37-mile section Phase 2a from north of Birmingham to Crewe will be put back by two years.
Having already spent around $24 billion on the project, “we have seen significant inflationary pressure and increased project costs,” said transportation secretary Mark Harper on March 9. While delaying the section to Crewe, the government “is prioritizing HS2’s initial services between Old Oak Common in London and Birmingham Curzon Street,” he added.
Five months ago, the government forecast a potential $2.2 billion cost rise on the London-Birmingham section, budgeted at $46.5 billion at 2019 prices. Harper said opening the line into north London "remains on track to be delivered between 2030 and 2034."
While the government remains committed to the Old Common Oak section northwards, the schedule for Euston station is less clear. Old Common Oak, itself a major transportation hub, would be connected with Euston by 4.5 miles of tunnels under densely built-up areas.
The government would “take the time to ensure we have an affordable and deliverable station design, delivering Euston alongside high-speed infrastructure to Manchester,” Harper said.
Large areas around Euston area have already been demolished to make way for the ambitious expansion of the existing station there. As now planned, the three-level station would have 10 new platforms, each close to 1,500 ft long.
“The community around Euston have lost homes, schools and businesses to HS2,” says Georgia Gould, leader of the local Camden Council. “What we can’t have is a partially abandoned building site, with huge areas fenced off creating a barrier between our communities."