Leveling-Up secretary refuses to guarantee HS2 will finish in Euston

The Leveling-Up secretary has refused to guarantee that HS2 will end in Euston, saying he did not know where the final London destination would be.

Michael Gove, asked where the improved rail route might end in the UK capital, said there was “debate” over whether it should be Euston or Old Oak Common, a west London suburb.

The government announced earlier this month that it will prioritize having initial HS2 services running by 2033 between Old Oak Common and Birmingham Curzon Street as part of measures designed to reduce costs.

It means that services will not stop at Euston, in central London, for years to come, with passengers expected to travel half an hour on the Elizabeth line.

But Gove was unable to confirm on Sunday that the tracks linking Old Oak Common and Euston station would ever be built.

The senior Conservative, asked on Channel 4’s The Andrew Neil Show if he could guarantee the train route would end in central London, said: “There is a debate about whether or not it should be Old Oak Common or Euston.

“Old Oak Common is going to be an important area for regeneration, but we want to make sure that as many people as possible can benefit from not only the additional rail infrastructure, but also the regeneration that HS2 can bring.

“So the Old Oak common area is a part of North West London that requires levelling.”

Pressed on whether HS2 would go to Euston, the cabinet minister replied: “I don’t know what the final decision will be about where the terminal will be.”

Reports surfaced in January that the Euston element of the high-speed line may never be completed despite preparatory work starting around the main station.

But Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt was quick to try to quash those rumours.

HS2 project
Construction of HS2 is already underway in Euston (HS2/PA)

Hunt said at the time that he saw “no conceivable circumstances” in which HS2 would not arrive at its intended central London terminus at Euston.

The complexities around the Euston site meant that high-speed services were already having to temporarily start and end at Old Oak Common, with passengers using the Elizabeth line to travel to and from central London.

A “full business case” for HS2 published by the DfT in April 2020 indicated that the target time frame for the launch of services between Old Oak Common and Birmingham was 2029-2033, while for trains between Euston and the North West of England the range was 2031-2036.

Transport Secretary Mark Harper’s announcement earlier this month about prioritizing services from Old Oak Common to Birmingham was taken to mean that the route may not enter central London until the 2040s. .

But Gove’s comments will cast doubt on whether the Euston connection will ever get the green signal.

As part of Mr Harper’s announcement, it was also confirmed that the construction of the section of HS2 from Birmingham to Crewe will be delayed by two years.

Gove said government policy remains for the line to be built as far as Manchester in the north of England.


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