A peer behind an HS2 review commissioned by Boris Johnson has said the entire project should be scrapped amid reports the high-speed rail line may not reach its central London terminus at Euston because of rising costs.

Lord Berkeley called for the tens of billions of pounds being invested in the project to be diverted to improve mainline railway services across Britain.

The HS2 route in Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire will travel through The Chalfonts, Central Chilterns, to the south-west of Aylesbury and across north-east Oxfordshire.


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Soaring inflation means the redeveloped Euston station may not open until 2038 and could be axed completely with trains instead stopping at a new hub at Old Oak Common in west London’s suburbs, according to The Sun.

The newspaper also reported that a two to five-year delay to the entire project is being considered.

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On Friday the Department for Transport said the project is facing significant inflationary pressures.

Phase One of HS2 involves the railway being built between London and Birmingham, with the line extended from the West Midlands to Crewe in Phase 2a.

Phase 2b will connect Crewe to Manchester and the West Midlands to the East Midlands.

The planned extension to Leeds was shelved in November 2021.

A DfT spokesman 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.”

Lord Berkeley was deputy chairman of the Oakervee Review into HS2, commissioned by Mr Johnson in August 2019.

The then-prime minister gave the railway the green light to proceed in February 2020, despite the review warning that the total cost could reach £106 billion (at 2019 prices).

Lord Berkeley, a long-term sceptic of the project, told the PA news agency that Old Oak Common could only have capacity for around half the trains of Euston.

He said: “There’s not enough space for it (to be the London terminal) so they couldn’t do it except maybe (for) a shuttle service from Birmingham.

“What’s the point of building HS2 just to get to Birmingham?

“I think the whole thing should be cancelled.”

He claimed investment in the project would be “much better spent on improving the railway lines in the north, east and west, than going to London a bit quicker”.

Complexities around the Euston site meant high-speed services were already due to temporarily start and end at Old Oak Common, with passengers using the Elizabeth line to travel to and from central London.

That would add at least half an hour on to journeys to and from Euston.

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Nigel Harris, managing editor of Rail magazine, said that Euston is “being built right now” with billions of pounds already spent on preparatory work and buying up property.

Construction of a 4.5-mile long tunnel between Old Oak Common and Euston was expected to begin in 2024 and take two years to complete.

HS2 has been dogged by criticism over its financial and environmental impact.

In October of last year, Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove suggested capital investment for HS2 would be reviewed, but Chancellor Jeremy Hunt subsequently backed the project.

The target cost of Phase One was £40.3 billion at 2019 prices.

A budget of £55.7 billion for the whole of HS2 was set in 2015.


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