CamdenNewJournal

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Former HS2 chairman tells Lords Euston works ‘too complex’ and should be put on ice

Sir Terry Morgan says managers should 'disconnect Euston' from first phase of railway

22 January, 2019 — By Tom Foot

“There’s just extraordinary money involved” 

THE former chairman of HS2 has told a House of Lords select committee that the redevelopment of Euston is “too complex” and should be significantly delayed.

Sir Terry Morgan, who resigned from the railway project in December, was asked why the £57billion railway to Birmingham was terminating in Euston and not Old Oak Common in west London.

He told the Economic Affairs Committee he believed the railway should eventually end up in Euston, but it should urgently be “disconnected” from the first phase of the project.

It would mean major works stopping and not starting until the second or third phase, which are scheduled between 2026 and 2033.

Sir Terry said: “My personal view is: take Euston off the critical pathway. Allow the programme team to work out the best way to manage the project. It’s very very complex. As a programme manager, I would have like to have seen more flexibility on that.

I mean, there’s extraordinary money involved to just get the ground cleared – just to get it started. There are tens of thousands of bodies. It is hugely challenging, more challenging than anything that could have been estimated before. The impact on the public is huge.”

He added: “The planning assumption is that when HS2 is working at full volume, a third will get off at Old Oak Common. The capacity of Crossrail is there to accommodate it. Personally, I would disconnect Euston away from Phase 1.”

Sir Terry’s comments echoed what Camden campaigners have been telling politicians for years. Old Oak Common was repeatedly dismissed by HS2 bosses who said it was important the project came into inner London.

Despite this, the project has been routinely backed by all major political parties since it was first conceived by Lord Adonis, the Baron of Camden Town, in 2009.

The National Temperance Hospital in Hampstead Road was demolished, a new secondary school built, more than 180 replacement council homes have been built and more than 50,000 bodies are being exhumed from a former church burial ground. Businesses have been compulsory purchased but have not received compensation while dozens of mature trees have been axed.

Former Labour chancellor Alistair Darling asked: “Given all inherent risks, it might have been better spending the money in smaller perhaps less grandiose projects?”

Lord Layard had asked Sir Terry whether it was true that Euston section of the railway development was costing the taxpayer £8billion.

But Sir Terry admitted “nobody knows” what the final cost of HS2 would be and that in time “something has to give” in terms of speed or the number of the trains on the proposed line, adding: “The regeneration opportunities are just phenomenal, they are just so expansive. You build a railway, you have regeneration follow it.”

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