HS2: ‘Not a cat in hell’s chance’ private sector will fund line from Old Oak Common to Euston, says Sadiq Khan
If the HS2 leg to Euston is not completed, Mr Khan said it would be “a betrayal of businesses in London and beyond”.
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The government however claims there is “already extensive support and interest” from the sector to invest in the regeneration of the area around Euston, and cites the King’s Cross and the Battersea and Nine Elms developments as examples of such schemes working.
Prime minister Rishi Sunak announced at the Conservative party conference in October that a new development company, separate from HS2 Ltd, would take over the delivery of the Euston leg.
A DfT document detailed plans to create a “transformed ‘Euston Quarter’” around the new station, with up to 10,000 homes to be built. The proposal for the station itself however was scaled back from 11 platforms to six, and a planned pedestrian tunnel linking Euston with Euston Square was scrapped. It was also widely reported that without adequate private investment, the line would not run to Euston.
Until that leg is completed, HS2 will terminate in west London, at Old Oak Common, from which point passengers coming from Birmingham will have to transfer onto Elizabeth line trains to travel into the centre of the city.
During Thursday’s (November 16) Mayor’s Question Time, Mr Khan described the government’s belief that the private sector will pay to connect Old Oak Common with Euston as “wishful thinking”.
“There’s not a cat in hell's chance of the private sector completely paying the £6.5bn," he said. "Who’s building the tunnel from Euston to Euston Square? Who’s going to build the connection from Euston to Old Oak Common? Who’s going to improve the public realm? Who’s going to give permission for 10,000 homes, give them back to the local community?”
Mr Khan added that if the HS2 leg to Euston is not completed, it would be “a betrayal of businesses in London and beyond”.
“It appears as if the government is cancelling the Euston terminals by stealth and leaving a crucial part of central London in a state of ongoing uncertainty."
Transport secretary Mark Harper said in a recent treasury committee session that the interest in delivering Euston through the development corporation “has been very extensive, it’s been broadly welcomed and the delivery partners are very enthusiastic”.
He added he is “very reasonably optimistic” based on other projects which relied on private investment, such as the development at Nine Elms and Battersea.
A DfT spokesperson said: “As has always been planned, the line will finish at Euston. This is a world class regeneration opportunity and there is already extensive support and interest from the private sector to invest.”