Posted 6th October 2023 | 6 Comments

Slimmed down HS2 Euston may depend on private cash

Reports overnight say that construction of the HS2 station at London Euston, with its 7km link from Old Oak Common, will only go ahead if private investment can be found.

The Prime Minister said on Wednesday that although he was scrapping Phases 2A and 2B from north of Birmingham to Crewe and Manchester, the connection with Euston was back on the agenda.

The proposed station will now have only six platforms rather than the 11 which were originally envisaged when HS2 was to serve the East Midlands, South Yorkshire, Leeds and Manchester as well as Birmingham.

Mr Sunak also said he was taking the revived Euston project away from HS2 Ltd, and creating a Euston Development Zone company to manage the work. Construction at Euston was paused earlier this year because the budget of £2.6 billion had increased to £4.8 billion. 

The Department for Transport has not commented on the claims of private sector involvement, beyond saying in the Network North Command Paper that funding of Euston should be ‘underpinned by contributions from those people and businesses its development supports’.

Concern has also been growing about the the government’s intention to release safeguarded land on the route between Lichfield and Manchester, which would make restarting the scheme very difficult.

The DfT has stopped buying land for Phase 2A between Lichfield and Crewe, and will start selling properties which it had already acquired at a cost of £423 million.

If another government wanted to restart the high speed scheme north of Birmingham, it would have to apply for a new Transport & Works Act order, authorising a second round of compulsory purchases. These can involve protracted negotiations with property owners and push completion of a line to north west England even further into the future.

Reader Comments:

Views expressed in submitted comments are that of the author, and not necessarily shared by Railnews.

  • Michael T., Reading

    Whenever I hear the term Levelling UP... I turn off and stop listening as anything and everything said will be utter BS.
    REAL Genuine Levelling UP will be a 'replication' of How Germany has been attempting to Level UP East Germany to West Germany standards of living.
    The Germans started 32 (THIRTY TWO) years ago in their attempt to get the East to be on par with West. Note to those unaware, the disparity between East and West Germany is only a FRACTION of the disparity of the North of England and the Southeast of England.
    Thirty Two years and still ploughing ahead, Every worker in the former West Germany has been and continues to pay an Additional 7.5% Income Tax. A flat rate applied to ALL in the West.
    Thirty Two Years (since 1991) of the West paying 7.5% Additional Income Tax and the German Levelling Up will take another minimum of at least 50 more years.
    For England to have a comparable Levelling UP of the North to SE England, it would require everyone in the SE of England to pay a flat 15% Additional Income Tax for the next 75 to 80 years.
    This will NEVER Happen. A few pennies tossed here and a few tossed there... will achieve NOTHING.
    Look at the Facts of what Levelling UP Really Means and the amount it would cost and the duration... It will NEVER ever happen.
    England will have long ago fragmented as those with the Money will Never pay what is required.
    The real issue for whosoever is in govt in 2025 is KEEPING the UK together. It exists in Name Only. This applies to England as well... the NUTS2 regions will be fighting balkanisation petty wars over the remnants of who gets what of the former UK national silverware of state.
    Money for HS2, 3, 4, 25+ is not an issue. It can be conjured up as easily as the trillions that were conjured up by pressing the Magic Button - Quant Easing Button, on the Bank of England spreadsheet. This Island can have genuine HSR lines IF there is going to be money sloshing around and directly into tory donor pockets. Ritchie Rich Rushi wants people to forget how easy money can be created when wanted to be created and return to the lies of thatcher ... government coffers are the same as her personal cheque book in her household handbag LIE. LOL

  • H. Gillies-Smith, South Milford

    I think you'll find that the HS2 link north from Birmingham is authorised by a specific Act of Parliament not an Order authorised by the Transport and Works Act.

  • Roland Harmer, Bristol

    A major change which will have a profound impact on transport for decades to come. Why wasn’t parliament involved in this decision?

  • Neil Palmer, Waterloo

    So with the plan to cut Euston HS2 station back to 6 platforms is the PM totally ignorant of the fact that you'd still want to use HS2 as far as Lichfield for trains to North Wales, Manchester, Liverpool, Glasgow, etc. otherwise HOW is it going to relieve congestion on the southern part of the WCML? This seems like a plan to make HS2 basically useless other than for trips to Birmingham. Brilliant!
    Did the PM get this idea from his friends lobbying for more roads, or for more business for the bus/coach companies?

    With only 6 platforms there MUST be connections from the current Euston platforms to the HS2 tunnel (just as there should have been from the approaches to Curzon St to connect to Birmingham New Street to allow for journeys from the north and northeast to Bristol and the Southwest via HS2, back when the plan was for HS2 to be something other than a Birmingham only line).

  • John Porter , Leeds

    The scaling down of Euston needs to be accompanied by passive provision, potentially after the General Election. The possibility of junctions near ventilation shafts in the Old Oak to Euston tunnels needs to be fully considered before the tunnels start being used. Otherwise HS2 will never be capable of its design capacity - 16 in service trains per hour. The ideal place for such junctions is where they could lead to what are currently WCML platforms at Euston.
    A combined option of quarter hourly WCML Milton Keynes services and 2 or 3 HS2 services, being diverted under Regents Park to low level extra platforms at Euston, would open up longer term opportunities beyond Euston in the 2060/70s.
    Doing that, or part of that, could significantly reduce Underground station congestion caused by the decision to remove the main passenger link to the City of London via Euston Square Underground, and the possibility that Crossrail 2 is indeed indefinitely delayed.

    In levelling up terms, Telford, Wolverhampton & Coventry gain little from HS2 and deserve a direct connection with Crossrail 1 - a key attraction for one quarter of HS2 passengers.
    Making passive provision for those enhancements would be a cheap but positive response to the proposed HS2 Euston changes. It merely identifies them as one option for the 2050s, which need to be considered now in the design for any Euston “over station” developments.
    Perhaps that would lead to a few 2060 HS2 services terminating at Euston low level and quarter hourly WCML services heading to Farringdon (for Crossrail 1). 2070 extensions beyond Euston to HS1 and/or Gabriel’s Wharf (with access to Waterloo East, Southwark and Temple Tube Stations) would be feasible - mimicking the original Crossrail 2’s aim of connecting Euston to Waterloo lines

  • Chris Jones-Bridger, Buckley Flintshire

    Far from the PM taking a tough decision for the future the reports that the DfT has stopped buying land for for the Lichfield to crewe section and looking to start selling already acquired property is nothing less that an act of sabotage to any future administration.

    Questions need to be raised and answers provided as to the analysis and advice the PM received before reaching his decision. Before Phase 2A was authorised it was subject to exhaustive consultation and parliamentary debate before receiving Royal Assent to proceed. To overrule this without at least showing the workings and methodology is in polite language inexcusable. The Covid Pandemic is no excuse for ripping up a long term infrastructure project. Yes we can agree that travel has been affected but to use the figures from the last few years as the basis of projecting the long term future is blatantly dishonest. Transport planners with years of experience will point to past disturbances be it economic recession, world wars and even for direct comparison the Spanish Flu Pandemic of a century ago to show how recovery was possible.

    As former PM Mr Cameron has been quoted 15 years of cross party consensus has been torn up. From all angles both political and from within industry the PM is facing incoming flak that no prior consultation was made. Also don't we have bodies such as the National Infrastructure Commision established precisely to advise government regarding strategic projects and to act as a mechanism to avoid a rogue administration from undoing projects of national significance? It would appear with his I know best attitude that our current PM considers himself above such checks and balances.

    As to Euston now further information has emerged that private sector contributions are being sought fine,b but lets' be clear that any funding provided being 'underpinned by contributions from people and businesses it's development supports' isn't just a reenactment of the covid procurement scandal with contracts being preferred to those with well placed political mates. Also if private sector contributions are welcome to develop Euston why hasn't West Mids Mayor Street's suggestion being followed up to take Phase 2A forward?

    As a final thought why no mention of Great British Railways? The creation of this unifying body with a 'guiding mind' seems further away than ever. Then again why would the industry need a 'guiding mind' when Mr Sunak seems to know everything!