Rishi Sunak insisted that HS2 will ultimately finish at Euston, amid questions about the fate of the multi-billion infrastructure project.
The Prime Minister, who faced questions from MPs during an appearance at the Liaison Committee, insisted that there was nothing “ambiguous” about the final termination point for HS2 as he confirmed that the Government still planned to see passengers end their journey in central London.
The Government announced earlier this month that the construction of the Birmingham to Crewe leg of HS2 will be delayed by two years, with the Government also “prioritising” the initial services between Old Oak Common in west London’s suburbs and Birmingham Curzon Street.
Presented as a cost-saving measures amid high inflation, the changes are set to see services not stopping in Euston in central London for years to come, with passengers expected instead travel for half an hour on the Elizabeth Line.
Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove raised eyebrows over the weekend when he refused to guarantee that the project would end at Euston.
Mr Sunak was unequivocal, telling Transport Committee chairman Iain Stewart that it remained the plan for Euston to be the final destination.
“It shouldn’t be ambiguous,” he said.
The Prime Minister also offered a strong defence of the decision to pause or “rephase” work on the central London station.
He said that “the aim is to deliver that station alongside the rollout to Manchester and to take the time now to get the right deliverability for that particular section”.
“I think it’s important that we get the big infrastructure projects right, that we do them properly. They cost a lot of money. It’s reasonable that we make sure they’re going to be done on budget.
“We’re taking the time to make sure it can be delivered within budget and, given inflationary pressures, it’s important we get that right.”
He also pointed to the work happening away from central London.
“We’re focusing on this bit of it from Old Oak Common to Euston, let’s not forget Old Oak Common to Birmingham, that is a £20 billion investment phase one that is in full flow,” he told MPs after multiple questions on the subject.
It comes after the National Audit Office warned that delays linking up HS2 and Euston could still mean extra costs and potentially even higher spending.