Construction News

Mon February 17 2020

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HS2 Ltd stripped of Euston and phase 2b

5 days HS2 Ltd, the organisation set up a decade ago to get Britain’s high speed rail spine built, is to be stripped of responsibility for the northern and southernmost elements of the project.

HS2 Ltd is losing responsibility for its London terminus
HS2 Ltd is losing responsibility for its London terminus

HS2 Ltd will still be in charge of the railway line between London and Crewe – phases 1 and 2A – but the government has decided it wants a new organisation to take the line on to Manchester and Leeds (phase 2b)  in a bid to bring the overall project in at less than £100bn.

In an unprecedented attack on public servants, prime minister Boris Johnson impugned the professional capability of HS2 management and engineers in the House of Commons yesterday, saying that the company had ‘not made the job any easier’ and had not ‘distinguished itself’. Governments and politicians, by contrast, who have spent a decade tweaking and stalling the scheme, escaped any blame from the prime minister.

Responsibility for the London terminus at Euston station is also being taken away from HS2, with a single body coordinating all elements of the Euston redevelopment. Old Oak Common will act as the temporary London terminus for HS2 services until Euston station is complete.

This is in line with recommendations of the Oakervee Review into the delivery arrangements for HS2, commissioned by prime minister Boris Johnson when he took office last year.

“In comparison with the other Phase One HS2 stations, the construction at Euston is very challenging,” Doug Oakervee said.

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“Euston station is a complex site with four different projects being developed or planned for development within a confined space. As well as the HS2 Euston project there is the redevelopment of the conventional Network Rail Euston station, regeneration above and on the land around Euston station and proposed plans for Crossrail 2. There is also the challenge of undertaking the work alongside maintaining the operation of the existing railway and underground services as well other local transport provision such as buses and taxis.”

He said: “The government should… develop and set out a single plan for the overall Euston project, with one organisation responsible for the overall development and governance of the Euston project. Given the complexity of the Euston project, this organisation should not be HS2 Ltd.”

The prime minister told the House of Commons yesterday that he would not scrap HS2 despite the forecast cost reaching approximately £100bn. But, he added: “There will be changes to the way HS2 is managed. We will, in line with Oakervee’s recommendations, be interrogating the current costs to identify where savings can be made in phase 1 without the costs and delays that would be associated with a detailed redesign.

“And, so that the company can focus solely on getting phases 1 and 2A built on something approaching on time and on budget I will be creating new delivery arrangements for both the grossly behind-schedule Euston terminus, and phase 2B of the wider project.”

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