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The decision to delay HS2’s London terminus will cost at least £200mn -Dlight News

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The budget for the London terminus of Britain’s new HS2 high-speed rail line was “unrealistic” from the start, and the government’s decision to delay its construction will cost it at least £200mn, a report by a cross-party group of MPs has warned. .

The rebuilding of Euston station to accommodate high-speed trains has emerged as one of the biggest headaches for the HS2 programme. The project is designed to take passengers from London to Birmingham and the north of England but has faced delays and huge costs, which could rise from £37.5bn in 2013 to more than £70bn.

In an attempt to curb ballooning costs, ministers announced earlier this year plans to halt work at Euston and the final stretch of track for an unspecified period, which would run at a time. 7.2 km tunnel In central London. It also delayed the construction of the section between Birmingham and Crewe by two years.

At the time, the government said the move would put the project on a “more realistic and stable footing”.

A House of Commons Public Accounts Committee report published on Friday says previous budgets for Euston station were “grossly unrealistic”. At the time it was decided to stop work on the station, the estimated cost was £4.8bn, the committee says. The original budget was £2.6bn.

MPs have found that the initial costs of mothballing the rebuilding work will cost the taxpayer an initial £200mn. But he added that the government “does not know what the additional costs and implications of the decision to halt construction will be.”

The government has not yet “reached a clear understanding” of the impact of inflation on the Euston rebuild, the report added.

The committee also found that, despite eight years of planning for the station, the government still had no agreed design and “didn’t know what it was. [was] trying to achieve.”

Ministers first withdrew plans for Euston in 2020, when it reduced the number of HS2 platforms from 11 to 10. But a National Audit Office report earlier this year found the revised plan was still £400mn more expensive than the original.

The PAC report warns that the effects of delays on local people and businesses are also “unknown”. HS2 construction sites at Euston – cleared by demolition in recent years – sit next to homes and businesses.

He adds that ministers had not learned lessons from previous troubled infrastructure projects, such as Crossrail, London’s long-delayed east-west underground railway now operating as the Elizabeth Line.

The chair of the Public Accounts Committee, Dame Meg Hillier, said the project at Euston was “underfunding” and added: “The pause, ostensibly to save money, is not free . . . the Government must now be clear about what it is trying to achieve. .

The government said it was “committed to delivering HS2 from Euston to Manchester in the most cost-effective way for taxpayers, which is why earlier this year we decided to restart construction at Euston to help balance the nation’s books and provide an affordable design for a station. .

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