Jeremy Hunt commits to HS2’s Euston terminal amid reports it may be scrapped and line end at Old Oak Common
Jeremy Hunt has said he does not see “any conceivable circumstances” in which High Speed 2 rail line would not run to its planned Euston terminal following reports it may be scrapped.
Earlier on Friday, reports stated the rail project linking London to the north may not even reach Euston station due to increasing costs.
Due to soaring prices caused by inflation, HS2 bosses are allegedly contemplating scaling back the project by delaying the completion of the Euston terminal or scrapping it completely.
Following a speech on Friday, Mr Hunt, was asked whether ministers were committed to HS2 going all the way to Euston, adding: "Yes we are.
"And I don't see any conceivable circumstances in which that would not end up at Euston. And indeed I prioritised HS2 in the autumn statement.
"We have not got a good record in this country of delivering complex, expensive infrastructure quickly, but I'm incredibly proud that, for the first time in this last decade, under a Conservative government, we have shovels in the ground building HS2 and we're going to make it happen."
The project which has already faced delays and was slated to cost between £72 billion and £98 billion in 2019, would instead terminate at Old Oak Common in west London, The Sun reports.
From there, commuters would use the Underground or Elizabeth Line – Old Oak Common is not on the crossrail link currently – to travel into central London.
A two to five-year delay is now being considered, although a Department for Transport spokesperson said they are committed to delivering the link-up to Manchester.
They said: “The Government remains committed to delivering HS2 to Manchester, as confirmed in the Autumn Statement.
“As well as supporting tens of thousands of jobs, the project will connect regions across the UK, improve capacity on our railways and provide a greener option of travel.”
Commenting on the report, London Mayor Sadiq Khan said: “It beggars belief that the Government can spend tens of billions of pounds on a new railway from London to the North – and for it not to actually reach central London.
“HS2 is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to speedily connect the capital with cities in the North of England – and it defies all logic if the Government seriously expects commuters to have to switch onto already busy trains to complete their journey to and from central London.
“Hundreds of millions of pounds has already been spent regenerating the Euston area and many affordable family homes have been demolished to make way for HS2. The Government needs to make sure that work has not been in vain.”
In 2015 a £55.7 billion budget was set for the project which was supposed to connect London to Birmingham and then Manchester and Leeds. The leg connecting Sheffield and Leeds has since been scrapped.
The first leg connecting Birmingham and London is scheduled to open in 2033 but a report published last October found that the £40.3 billion budget target would be exceeded.
In 2018, the Government-commissioned Oakervee Review estimated that the final bill for HS2 could reach £106 billion (at 2019 prices).
The project has also sparked protests which saw members of the HS2 Rebellion group dig tunnels under Euston Square Gardens and occupy the space for a month.