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Plans to cut HS2 platforms at Euston ‘totally unambitious’, says rail expert

The central London station was due to have 11 platforms for high-speed trains but will now have six.

Neil Lancefield
Wednesday 04 October 2023 15:37 BST
HS2 Ltd has been stripped of responsibility for Euston station in central London (HS2/PA)
HS2 Ltd has been stripped of responsibility for Euston station in central London (HS2/PA) (PA Media)

The number of planned HS2 platforms at Euston station has been slashed under the Government’s move to “strip back the project” and save £6.5 billion.

The central London station was initially due to have 11 platforms for high-speed trains but will now have six, according to a Department for Transport (DfT) document published after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s speech at the Conservative Party conference.

Railway consultant William Barter, whose recent clients include the DfT, told the PA news agency the plan was “totally unambitious and rules out options in the future”.

The DfT document also stated that a planned tunnel between Euston and Euston Square Tube station had been axed.

HS2 work at Euston was paused in February because costs had ballooned to £4.8 billion compared with an initial budget of £2.6 billion.

Old Oak Common in the suburbs of west London will be the high-speed railway’s initial terminus in the capital.

Mr Sunak told the conference the high-speed railway will reach Euston but HS2 Ltd will be stripped of responsibility for the station.

There must be some accountability for the mistakes made, for the mismanagement of this project

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak

He said: “The management of HS2 will no longer be responsible for the Euston site.

“There must be some accountability for the mistakes made, for the mismanagement of this project.

“We will instead create a new Euston Development Zone, building thousands of new homes for the next generation of homeowners, new business opportunities and a station that delivers the capacity we need.

“In doing so, for the first time in the lifecycle of this project, we will have cut costs.

“The £6.5 billion of savings that (Transport Secretary Mark Harper) and I are making will be taken from the Euston site and given to the rest of the country.”

We are going to strip back the project and deliver a station that works, and that can be open and running trains as soon as possible, and which has the leadership in place to deliver maximum value to the taxpayer

Department for Transport

A No 10 source said the £6.5 billion figure was a combination of replanning the project after considering “what is no longer required” and a developer contribution model such as the one used in Battersea, south-west London.

The DfT document stated: “We are going to strip back the project and deliver a station that works, and that can be open and running trains as soon as possible, and which has the leadership in place to deliver maximum value to the taxpayer.

“We will not provide a tunnel between Euston and Euston Square Underground station or design features we do not need.

“Instead, we will deliver a six-platform station which can accommodate the trains we will run to Birmingham and onwards and which best supports regeneration of the local area.

“That is how we properly unlock the opportunities the new station offers, while radically reducing its costs.”

PA approached HS2 Ltd for a comment.

Mr Barter said cutting the number of HS2 platforms at Euston to six “would limit the station to the Phase 1 service” to and from Birmingham.

“There would be no scope for expansion to take Nottingham, Sheffield or Leeds trains.

“It’s totally unambitious and rules out options in the future.”

He added that the plan was “exactly the opposite” of the Tory conference slogan, which was “long-term decisions for a brighter future”.

The website of the Euston Partnership, which already exists, said it attempted to “ensure a collective focus on driving forward benefits for all those who live, work and travel through Euston”.

Among its members are HS2 Ltd, the DfT, Network Rail, Transport for London and Camden Council.

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