A north London homeowner has been granted permission to bring legal proceedings against HS2 for its Euston tunnel design, claiming it will ‘endanger the lives and properties of residents nearby’
A High Court judge gave Hero Granger-Taylor permission to proceed with her claim against Euston’s ‘three tunnels’ that she has been fighting for since June 2019. HS2 has been given 21 days to submit its response to the claim.
The claim relates to latest design specifications given in updates to residents. However, HS2 said that the designs are yet to be finalised and would still be subject to internal structural and safety checks.
A joint venture between Costain, Skanska and Strabag is delivering the Euston tunnels and approaches for HS2.
Granger-Taylor raised the complaint after a warning made by civil engineer Colin Elliff outlined the potential for ’catastrophic collapse’ of a retaining wall in her neighbourhood at Park Village East near Mornington Crescent.
The report conducted by the specialist railway engineer Colin Elliff revealed the design could cause a huge 10m high, 120-year-old wall to collapse into the new tunnels below or onto the existing West Coast main line, potentially crushing railway passengers.
The report claims the unstable retaining wall will cause 130tonnes per metre of pressure downwards onto the proposed 9m wide tunnel just 1.5m below.
Jayesh Kunwardia, Partner at Hodge Jones & Allen, who represents Granger-Taylor, said: ’Understandably, we and Ms Granger-Taylor are delighted with the result of the hearing. The judge recognises our claim that the Three Tunnels Design is a potentially lethal proposal and of great concern to the local residents.
‘This latest outcome may result in HS2 Ltd taking the view that the Three Tunnels Design is unworkable and therefore being forced to reconsider the entire scheme.’
Granger-Taylor, who lives half a mile from Euston Station, said: ’People in the Euston area have now suffered for ten years the huge uncertainty which the HS2 scheme has brought with it. It is a real relief to have been vindicated by the law.
’I am heartened that this decision will have thrown a small spanner into the works of the behemoth which is HS2. The lives and properties of those near to Euston cannot just be ignored and we demand proof of basic safety measures so that no lives are at risk.’
A spokesperson for HS2 added: ’The court’s decision does not mean that Granger-Taylor has been successful in her case. This is merely the court allowing her to have her case heard. In fact, a previous judge ruled that there was no case to answer in November 2019.
‘As we build Britain’s new high-speed railway, safety is our top priority. At Euston, we are currently working through a rigorous design and independent checking process, including geological and structural testing, before we begin construction of the Euston approach tunnels. We are confident our work will be delivered safely.’
The next hearing is due to take place in May.
Meanwhile an unpublished government report seen by the Financial Times claims that the cost of building the high-speed rail link could cost up to £106billion - almost double what HS2 esitmated the budget would be in 2015 (£56 billion).
The Oakervee review, the newspaper claims, also recommends pausing the second phase of the project while experts look at whether conventional lines could help link Birmingham to Manchester and Leeds instead.
The government’s response to the review and a decision about the future of the rail project - which has already cost the taxpayer £8billion - had been promised before the end of last year.