Surely Grandad is not the only one interested in any news of progress on that very expensive but largely forgotten project – HS2? You remember – the one that was announced seven years ago …
But there certainly seems to be few investigative souls pressing the government and their contractors for any news of progress on the ground. True there is a government paper – Overview of the HS2 project, setting out progress so far and next steps – available on the official website. Unfortunately it does lack much relevance to 2019 since it is dated March 2015. In other words it is four years out of date!
This month’s postings on the official site cover the designs for Old Oak Common station and which construction teams have been selected for the Euston and Old Oak Common contracts. But these official postings cover little about the projected costs involved. However today’s press reports putting the cost at £1,000 million – just at Old Oak Common – have not been denied.
Now it is hard for the general public to keep track of all the elements of complex, extended projects – but just take a look back on this single element; Old Oak Common station. In October 2014 this website pointed out the issues around this station. Then London’s Mayor, Boris Johnson, had ruled that an HS2-Crossrail interchange station would not receive any extra funding – so Kensington and Chelsea Council had underwritten the £33 million involved. With the way that project costs are climbing that £33 million will eventually pay for little more than the contractor’s tea breaks.
In 2014 politicians decried a proper interchange station at Old Oak Common – calling it Wormwood Scrubs International. But now comes the prediction that this critical hub will serve 250,000 passengers a day – more than 90 million a year – when it opens in 2026(!). It will replace London Victoria as the second-busiest station in the UK, after Waterloo. If that is true then it will be much busier than Euston.
Politicians still claim that they are unfairly treated when their confident pronouncements are dismissed as rubbish by a long-suffering electorate. But it seems that lies about HS2 are just as common as those about our relationship with Europe – and so many other things these days.