London aerial view, Istock

Future of HS2: Doubt cast over trains running to central London

The current state of HS2 has been cast into doubt though after the Government has refused to deny recent reports that the project may not run to Euston until 2038.

Due to the ongoing inflation hikes that are plaguing the UK, there is currently high levels of scrutiny directed towards government spending, with many arguing that the costs involved with HS2 outweigh the social benefit that it could deliver.

The Sun has reported that due to these costs concerns, plans for the high-speed rail’s run to central London could be completely scrapped, seeing trains stopping at a new hub at Old Oak Common in the suburbs of west London. This would then see commuters finish their journeys into the centre via traversing by the Elizabeth Line.

In 2019 prices, the estimated costs for the entirety of the project came between £72bn and £98bn, a staggering increase from the original 2015 budget allowance of £55.7bn. Though it is vital to note this accredited budget was announced prior to the cancellation of the Leeds leg.

The Sun’s report has also suggested that there could be a two to five-year delay for the entire project, a major halt from the current estimations of completion for 2029 and 2033.

Asked about the report, the Department for Transport 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."

Funding for HS2 has been scrutinised for some time, seen through Michael Gove, the Levelling Up Secretary, suggesting that the capital investment would be reviewed, only for Jeremy Hunt to support the project.

Current Transport Secretary Mark Harper has said that inflation was not affecting the "overall affordability of HS2 in real terms" but it was "creating pressures against its existing annual funding settlements."

*Update* 

In a recent development Jeremy Hunt, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, has addressed these concerns, confirming that the project will go ahead as planned, saying:

"I don't see any conceivable circumstance in which that would not end up at Euston." 

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