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High Speed Rail (Preparation) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:12 pm on 26th June 2013.

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Photo of Frank Dobson Frank Dobson Labour, Holborn and St Pancras 4:12 pm, 26th June 2013

HS2 will unleash havoc on Euston, Primrose Hill and Camden Town in my constituency. It will demolish the homes of about 500 people and blight the homes of at least another 1,000. One local park will disappear for ever; another will be a building site for 10 years or more. The project will prevent the much-needed reconstruction of Euston station, which was intended to provide around 1,000 new flats for local people. It has already delayed plans to rebuild a local convent school. The link to HS1 will subject Primrose Hill and Camden Town to large-scale engineering works, mainly above ground level. Local shops and restaurants will be put out of business; quiet back streets are to become official routes for construction traffic. Yet the compensation and mitigation regime intended for our area is inferior to what has been promised outside London. That cannot be right.

When HS2 was given the go-ahead, we were told, first, that phase 1 would cost £17 billion; secondly, that it would be completed by 2026; and thirdly, that no one would suffer a significant loss. HS2 is backtracking on all three. For a start, as has been pointed out, £17 billion will not provide a working railway, because it does not include the cost of the trains, estimated to be £2 billion—it will be a train-free zone. Nor does it include the cost of the works at Euston needed to allow the already overcrowded tube and local roads to cope with additional passengers and traffic—that is probably another £2 billion. VAT at 20% will come to about £3 billion. The original estimate for HS2 also included £1.4 billion for a spur to Heathrow. The spur has been dropped, but it is not at all clear where the £1.4 billion has gone.