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15 July: news in brief

Euston funding gap defended by DfT

THE Department for Transport has conceded that plans to upgrade the existing London Euston station are not yet funded, but said this would follow when an outline business case for the work is approved. The London Borough of Camden has criticised the lack of certainty more than once, and its criticisms were echoed by the Greater London Authority last September. The scheme is separate from the HS2 station project. DfT Euston project director Kate Cohen told New Civil Engineer that she did not agree that the £1.65 billion HS2 station was being developed separately. She continued: ‘It’s not being developed separately, it’s being developed as a holistic, phased project. Of course it would be fantastic if all elements of the project, including Crossrail 2 who is proposing to have a station on the Euston site, were all funded but you have to be realistic about how you do things and the funding. Asking for the impossible is not necessarily the best way of getting the project done.’ However, she also took the point about a lack of a confirmed budget for the existing Euston. ‘Obviously there’s an issue about that. But actually because of the complexities of the building programme at Euston and the need to keep services running there are other far more important issues than just the funding of it.’

Grayling’s £9m payout to Heathrow comes under fire

TRANSPORT secretary Chris Grayling has been criticised for paying £9 million to Heathrow Airport to help its preparations for HS2, because the airport will keep the money even if HS2 does not go ahead. The free market thinktank the Adam Smith Institute has dubbed the move ‘premature’. ASI head of research Matthew Lesh said: ‘It is bizarre that the government is providing compensation for something that hasn’t happened yet. This is a premature transfer on a project that is currently being brought into question entirely.’ The payment was revealed in the latest set of accounts lodged at Companies House by Heathrow Express. The DfT told the Sunday Telegraph that the compensation was part of a number of agreements to secure the future of Heathrow Express, ‘while enabling the construction of a new HS2 station at Old Oak Common’. The premium service from London Paddington to Heathrow will face new competition when Elizabeth Line services begin, although delays to the Crossrail project mean that this might not now happen before 2021.

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