There is no greater demonstration of the chaos and incompetence we have come to expect from the Government and their ability to manage and deliver major infrastructure projects than the ongoing shenanigans over the future of High Speed Rail and their decision to re-phase a considerable amount of the HS2 project by two years.

The Evening Standard summed up the situation perfectly, “Spending billions of pounds on a high-capacity, high-speed rail line linking the North with the capital, only for it to terminate several miles from central London, would be penny wise but pound foolish.”

Quite apart from the financial implications for the country of dither and delay is the impact on local people in Camden.

Over the past six years, local residents have been subjected to unprecedented disruption. Residents have lost their homes. Businesses have closed. Trees have been uprooted. Open spaces have been lost. Residents have been subject to noise and dirt. 

Ham & High: Anne Clarke says the delay to HS2 will give nothing back to communities affected by HS2Anne Clarke says the delay to HS2 will give nothing back to communities affected by HS2 (Image:

This delay will give nothing back to the communities affected by HS2 work. Local residents and businesses have a common vision: a time when HS2 works will finally end and they can get on with their lives.

It is estimated that the cost of the delay in Euston already exceeds £300m. The longer the delay, the greater the cost. 

The recent report of the National Audit Office has confirmed what local residents have witnessed over the past 13 years. Neither the Government nor HS2 Ltd have come up with a realistic plan for bringing HS2 into a high value, densely populated area such as Euston. 

Mark Thurston, HS2's chief executive, has now announced that he is leaving the project. In 2021/22, he was the UK's best paid civil servant, receiving some £623,000. This is yet a further example of this government rewarding failure.

A clear plan is needed to get this project back on track and end the disruption to people’s lives and livelihoods. That cannot come from this Government, who are incapable of doing anything. Their strategy is merely to push back any decision until after the election.

This strategy fails the people of Camden, who have already put up with far too much. It fails the people of Northern England, who are being denied the benefits of Rail infrastructure, and it fails the taxpayers of this country, who must pay a fortune for more delays.

  • Anne Clarke is the Labour London Assembly member for Barnet and Camden.