HS2 hits the retail buffers
30 July, 2020 — By John Gulliver
AS an opponent to the HS2 debacle I was always sceptical about one of the main arguments of its protagonists – that the enormous increase in passenger travel on our railways meant the lines from London to the Midlands and the North needed to be modernised.
Now, of course, passenger travel has virtually collapsed due to the pandemic – and as this is likely to blight the country for another a year or so the railways will continue to suffer. Not only that, but opponents warned that HS2 would be out of date before it was completed as more and more travellers would work from home in the future using hi tech laptops and smartphones.
And this has already happened. Commercial offices in London are now hard to let. As, indeed, are retail shops in high streets struck by competition from online shoppers.
In terms of the profitability of a redeveloped Euston Station – the investment jewel in the crown of the HS2 project – all of this means a question mark hangs over the viability of the project.
Will a new Euston Station end up as a white elephant – empty offices, hard-to-let shops?