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High-speed trains 'will stop at Euston', boss insists

Euston station Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The boss of HS2 says trains will run from Euston station

The boss of HS2, the high-speed train project, has insisted that services will operate from Euston.

Minutes from a recent meeting of rail bosses suggested plans to expand the central London station had been put on hold because of disagreements about the cost and design.

It led to fears that the controversial line might terminate at Old Oak Common in west London.

But Sir David Higgins has told the BBC that will not happen.

"It's simply about capacity. There's not the level of connectivity at Old Oak Common that you'd get at Euston, which will eventually have Crossrail 2, but also because of the various tube lines that connect with the mainline trains," he said.

Sir David also denied that the project was slipping behind schedule: "We haven't stopped anything and haven't delayed a thing."

Euston should be the showpiece station for HS2 and the gateway to Britain's most expensive and controversial building project. But right now, no-one knows what it is going to look like.

Euston, we have a problem

Euston has always been a sticky issue for HS2. The initial plan for a grand new station was shelved for a much simpler change in the layout. Yet somehow the simpler version was £400m more pricey than a complete rebuild.

It has never been clear exactly why the initial figure was so out of whack.

Then, last spring, the Chancellor George Osborne said he wanted a much more ambitious new station again, surrounded by shops, offices and homes.

But that involves raising a lot of private money, and keeping Camden, the local council, on side. Any rebuild will cause years of disruption in the area and cost people their homes.

Major

So what happens next? All sides are now getting together to try to come up with a master plan for Euston. Something that keeps everyone happy and doesn't derail the budget.

As Sir David points out, all they have to do before 2026, when phase one of the line opens, is to add six or seven new platforms, independent of the existing station.

After that it gets more tricky, as another six platforms will be needed by the time phase two opens in 2033 and that cannot be done without major redevelopment.

He has £2.5bn to get the platforms sorted, but it will cost a great deal more to add shops, offices and houses - and that is where private money should come in.

It will also need an amendment to the huge hybrid bill now making its way through Parliament.

Follow Richard Westcott on Twitter: @BBCwestcott

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