HS2 works to start again despite fears for construction workers
Lawyers questions whether railway project's employees are 'key-workers'
10 April, 2020 — By Tom Foot
Hero Granger-Taylor’s judicial review against HS2 designs is to be heard on May 13
HS2 has announced its contractors will restart construction works in ten days – just as coronavirus deaths are expected to “peak”.
Parking suspension notices have gone up in roads around Euston and Mornington Crescent warning “HS2 works” will begin again on April 20.
HS2 Ltd, the company managing the railway project, paused all works when the Government announced the lockdown because of safety concerns for its construction workers.
Network Rail, which is carrying out works for HS2 Ltd, insists it can now “ensure works follow the Public Health England guidance”.
The works include a “breaking out concrete” deconstruction of the west ramp of Euston station, and removal of canopy from platforms 17 and 18. A crane will be brought onto the site to start the removal of materials and steelworks.
Hodge Jones & Allen solicitor Jayesh Kunwardia said: “We also call on HS2 Ltd to cease putting workers at risk by having them work during the pandemic. We struggle to see how employees of HS2 Ltd’s contractors can be deemed ‘key workers’.”
Construction noise is particularly annoying during the lockdown as residents cannot leave their home. The council says it does not have the power to stop construction works but leader Cllr Georgia Gould has said was concerned about the level of construction going on.
Mr Kunwardia is representing Hero-Granger Taylor in a judicial review due to be heard in the High Court on May 13.
Ms Granger-Taylor argues that HS2’s current plan to tunnel into Euston station is dangerous and the design is fatally flawed. She has an engineer’s report that warns that a ten metre high wall could collapse with catastrophic consequences.
A recent review by Doug Oakervee recommended the government “seek to avoid the complicated HS2 approach to Euston station and minimise risk”.
Ms Granger-Taylor said: “Thousands of commuters travel into and out of Euston station every day and undermining the structural integrity of the area below and around the existing tracks with the Three Tunnels Design risks their safety. We urge the Government to do the right thing and consider alternative options for the London approach.”
Despite the lockdown, some courts are still operating as normal triggering concerns from legal professionals.
HS2 Ltd said: “Following further planning to ensure works follow the PHE guidance, Network Rail are now planning to restart work at the Euston station site.
“Noise mitigation measures have been put in place to minimise disturbance due to this work as much as is practicably possible. Works will take place in day time only.”
Ms Granger Taylor is fundraising for her legal case and more details can be found at www.crowdjustice.com/case/hs2accountability/