New UK High-Speed Rail Service May Not Connect To Central Lo...| MENAFN.COM

Thursday, 23 March 2023 02:47 GMT

New UK High-Speed Rail Service May Not Connect To Central London: Report

(MENAFN- The Peninsula) Reuters

LONDON: The British government is considering terminating HS2, a flagship new high-speed rail line connecting the capital to northern England, on the outskirts of London as the project's costs soar, the Sun newspaper reported on Friday.

Costs are rocketing as steel, concrete and wages rise, forcing the government to consider stopping the line in west London, instead of Euston, central London, scrapping the need for 7 kilometres of tunnel, the newspaper said.

Travellers would be expected to use the capital's underground network to complete their journeys.

According to the Sun, other options include delaying the extension to Euston or delaying the whole project by two to five years.

Asked about the report, the government did not deny it was considering the west London option, but confirmed its commitment to the track reaching Manchester, in northern England.

'The government remains committed to delivering HS2 to Manchester, as confirmed in the Autumn Statement,' a Department for Transport spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

Speaking later on Friday, Finance Minister Jeremy Hunt, praised HS2 but did not comment on the potential shortening of the route.

'We are absolutely committed to showing that we can deliver big, important infrastructure projects,' he said.

HS2 has already been scaled back after the government scrapped a link to the northern city of Leeds, due to the spiralling cost of the project, scheduled for final completion from 2035-2040.

Not linking to Euston would damage the whole point of HS2, said High Speed Rail Group, a trade association representing companies working on rail projects in Britain, because it would reduce capacity given the lack of platforms in west London.

'If you cut off Euston, you also cut off Manchester and the rest of the north,' the group said.

Spiralling costs

HS2 was expected to cost between 72 billion pounds ($89 billion) and 98 billion pounds at 2019 prices, but since then inflation has soared, with price rises in the construction industry said to stand at 18%.

The 2019 budget also represented a big jump from the 2015 estimate of 56 billion pounds.

Britain was the birthplace of rail travel and has an extensive network dating back to the nineteenth century.

But in the twenty-first century, it has fallen behind European peers like Spain and France which have thousands of kilometres of high speed infrastructure.

In northern England, in particular, the rail network is struggling, hit by a lack of investment and poor management.

The poor state of the transport network is the number one complaint among mayors representing cities in the north of England. On Wednesday they issued a joint statement saying they could no longer accept the current system.

Construction of the first part of HS2, from west London to Birmingham, is already underway. Building the second part from Birmingham to Manchester is slated to begin in 2024.


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