Mark Reynolds says government told firms one thing and then did opposite with ‘sneaky’ announcement

Mace chief executive Mark Reynolds has called the government’s handling of its decision to mothball the HS2 site at Euston “absolutely shameful”, accusing it of “sneakily” releasing the news just weeks after reassuring firms the job was still going ahead.

The scheme has been put on hold for the next couple of years at least, leaving a vast empty site in the middle of the capital.

As Euston main contractor, Mace and Spanish joint venture partner Dragados had around 360 staff on the project before transport secretary Mark Harper hit the pause button on the scheme earlier this year.

Reynolds said the number of staff from Mace on the project had gone down from 180 to just 40 while the joint venture had been budgeting for around £350m-worth of work this year on the scheme.

mark reynolds

Mark Reynolds said government has not been straight with its answers on the HS2 station scheme at Euston

“We’ve been able to redeploy people but others in the supply chain haven’t,” he said, adding that leaving the site as it was would be a “complete scar on the London landscape”.

But he reserved his strongest words for the way government had handled the announcement in March.

He told Building: “Everyone has done all this work, the prime minister and chancellor got door stepped earlier this year [in January chancellor Jeremy Hunt dismissed reports it was looking at scaling HS2 back] and they stood there, bold as brass to say ‘yes, it’s going to Euston’ and a few weeks later they sneakily put out a statement, that was read out in Parliament, to say it’s been suspended for two years. It’s absolutely shameful.”

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A report from the National Audit Office in the spring revealed the anticipated cost of the station had hit £4.8bn, roughly 85% higher than the original £2.6bn budget.

Reynolds admitted the amount budgeted for the station was “excessive” but added: “It’s not just a HS2 station. £1.1bn of that is for a TfL station.”

Referencing the Scottish parliament scheme, where budgets and designs kept changing, he said: “If [the government] is basing costs on 2015 or 2019 budgets and it’s going to finish in 2036 or 2042, of course it’s going to cost more. They should have asked: ‘What can we get for our budget and how can we do that together?’”.


The site will be derelict until at least April 2025

Earlier this month, MPs on the Public Accounts Committee said mothballing work at Euston shows the government “does not know what it is trying to achieve” with the station.

The DfT has said it will use the pause to determine the minimum requirements for the station and make decisions about what should be prioritised.

Options being looked at include making it a seven-platform station and adding three more platforms as later legs come on stream.

The job has seen more than 1,000 people leave it since Harper’s written statement with the design team being cut from 500 to just six. At peak, the site will have a workforce of between 2,500 and 3,000 people on it which was supposed to have been in 2025 and 2026.