In a committee hearing this morning, transport secretary Mark Harper admitted that HS2’s Euston developments were “significantly” greater than the initial budget allocated.
His comments followed confirmation that the £1.2bn tunnel from Old Oak Common would be paused until 2024.
Harper faced an array of strong questions relating to Euston’s Old Oak Common section of HS2 and the string of delays to the project. Conservative MP Greg Smith asked whether, following yesterday’s announcement, HS2 would “ever actually come into London?”
“Would it be a railway line that is fairly fast but that doesn’t go anywhere direct that’s that useful to anyone?”
Harper said that he had “been very clear that we remain committed to continuing HS2 to from Old Oak Common to Euston,” but that there had been “some very significant challenges there about the design work that was undertaken.”
An NAO report released in March said that pauses on the construction work need to be “managed closely,” and could increase costs in the long term.
The Transport Secretary admitted that there would be “some cost involved in demobilising the work there and leaving the site in a sensible way for the next couple of years that is sensible for people that live in the area.” He repeatedly fell back on inflationary pressure as a key cause of repeated set backs.
TSSA Interim President, Marios Alexandrou this afternoon described Harper’s responses to questions on HS2 as “astonishing,” arguing that the “slow death” of the project is the cost of government dithering.
The HS2 project’s budget began at £55.7bn. In 2018, the Okervee Review estimated it could hit upwards of £106bn.