‘Bury HS2 now’, says peer after latest failures exposed in bombshell report
Public Accounts Committee warns 'huge uncertainty' over Euston station
18 May, 2020 — By Tom Foot
HS2 plans for Euston have been delayed by another year
A PEER has called for HS2 to be immediately scrapped after a devastating report from the Government’s top financial watchdog.
Lord Tony Berkeley, who lives in Bloomsbury, said HS2 chiefs needed to be “brought to book” over the decade-long railway shambles that has brought misery to thousands of Camden residents.
The Public Accounts Committee published a report saying there was still “huge uncertainty remaining with the design and delivery of Euston station”.
Further delays are revealed, as costs continue to rise while final designs for what Hs2 actually plans to build in Euston have yet to be made public.
Lord Berkeley – who was the deputy chairman of the recent Oakervee Review into HS2 – said: “Billions of taxpayers’ money has already been wasted, and much more will be in the future unless parliament and ministers get a grip.
“It is time to cancel Phase 1 completely … and finally bury HS2, the company HS2 Ltd and bring to book those who have allowed this to happen.”
The PAC report – the fourth from MPs on the committee since HS2 began – has a section on learning lessons from Euston.
It confirms works will not be be completed until 2036 – ten years later than originally planned and 27 years after it was first announced by Lord Andrew Adonis, the Baron of Camden Town, in 2009.
Amazingly, despite more than a decade of HS2 debate in Camden, final designs for what HS2 intend to build in Euston are still being worked on behind closed doors.
The report said that after £30million had been spent on design work for the Euston project alone plans were ready to be submitted to Camden Council’s planning department.
However, the PAC said, this process looks set to be set back by at least another year because of changes recommended by a cost-saving review of the scheme. Stopping the scheme at Old Oak Common in west London had been ruled out.
The PAC report said “We were told by HS2 Ltd that these choices have quite big cost and schedule implications.
“If changes are made to Euston, HS2 Ltd estimates that it will need to undertake a further year of design work before resubmitting for planning consent.”
The most recent published architects’ proposals for Euston station have had to be altered following recommendations made by the Oakervee Review earlier this year.
The review was ordered by Boris Johnson after he became prime minister last summer and was supposed to be independent.
The PM appointed Doug Oakervee, a former chairman of the HS2 project, to lead the review. Lord Berkeley was his deputy, but quit the process saying the probe’s integrity had been compromised.
Land around the proposed terminus has almost been completely flattened by HS2 Ltd to make way for a huge “above station” private redevelopment of the area that will be led by the HS2 master planner, Lendlease.
The land, much of which was compulsory purchased by the Government, is valued at around £6billion.
Demolition of council homes on the Regent’s Park estate and railway structures coming in to Euston were restarted during the coronavirus lockdown. It sparked a protest last week by environmental campaigners.
The PAC committee – which is chaired by Meg Hillier – has given HS2 a six month deadline to show new designs. Its report said top ranking officials at HS2 and DfT had withheld evidence from them about the over-running costs of the scheme.
Ms Hillier said: “There is no excuse for hiding the nature and extent of the problems the project was facing from Parliament and the taxpayer.”
HS2 is not commenting but said it had been open about its financial problems – in last published recent annual report had said it “faced substantial costs and time pressures”.
The DfT said: “We have comprehensively reset the HS2 programme, introducing a revised budget and funding regime, with significant reforms to ensure the project is delivered in a more disciplined and transparent manner.”