Temporary terminus? Visual of Old Oak Common station post-HS2. The Oakervee review recommends this becomes the temporary terminus for the high-speed line pending completion of the redevelopment at Euston.

Oakervee: don’t cancel HS2

HS2 should not be cancelled and should be built in full, but some elements of the specification should be examined further, according to the review of the project by Douglas Oakervee. The review was commissioned by Prime Minister Boris Johnson and published by Government on 11 February, as Mr Johnson gave his backing to the project.

The report suggests removing elements of ‘gold-plating’ from the scheme and reducing service frequency to 14 trains per hour (tph), and recommends value engineering takes place before Phase One construction starts.

The review recommends Phase 2a from the West Midlands to Crewe be integrated with Phase One but advocates removal of the connection to the classic network at Handsacre, although Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has since stated he disagrees with this recommendation. The greatest level of design optimisation could occur on Phase 2b, for example by redesigning alignments. Mr Oakervee recommends work on this bill is paused and further study is undertaken to develop ‘an integrated railway plan’ incorporating other investments including Northern Powerhouse Rail and Midlands Engine Rail, with a view to delivering service improvements earlier than HS2’s current Phase 2b opening estimate of 2035-40.

Mr Oakervee rules out making Old Oak Common the southern terminus for HS2 on a permanent basis, although suggests it should be a temporary terminus while the ‘very challenging’ construction at Euston is completed. However, he recommends elements of the Euston terminus are redesigned and a co-ordinated plan developed for the scheme.

Other recommendations are directed at HS2 Ltd as an organisation, and while it recognises recent improvements the review calls for enhanced governance and appointment of more non-executive directors to the board.

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