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HS2 works stop amid fears for construction worker safety

Rail project bosses order 'pause' on main Euston station site and tunnel approaches

25 March, 2020 — By Tom Foot

Diggers demolished most of Euston last year to make way for a new terminus 

HS2 bosses have ordered a “pause” to construction works in Euston because of coronavirus safety fears for workers.

Contractors including Skanska, Costain, Strabag have ordered staff to down tools at the main Euston construction site and stop preparing for tunnelling station “approaches” through Camden.

HS2 Ltd – the company managing the already-delayed £100billion railway project – said all its construction sites were under review to “see if they can operate safely in accordance with Public Health Guidance”.

A spokeswoman added: “I can confirm that work on the enabling and main civils works on Euston sites are being paused.”

The ‘civils works’ are the next stage of construction of HS2, which is not due to be finished work in Euston until 2036 – 27 years after it was first proposed.

Unions have warned it is almost impossible to continue working while observing “social distancing” rules and bans on gatherings of more than two people.

An HS2 statement said: “To ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of our workforce and the communities in which we are working, only construction sites that can maintain Government guidelines and are critical to the delivery of HS2 will remain operational.

“As a result, the majority of our sites have paused or are pausing construction works. Those sites still working are doing so because they are confident they are operating within PHE guidelines, and will be monitored and remain under constant review.”

Many big construction firms are continuing work on development sites across the capital despite government health advice. A worker told the New Journal that days off would be counted as sick pay and they had been worried about taking a stand against management demands for continue working.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has said: “The government is saying construction workers should go to work, I disagree. I’ve worked on a construction site. It’s very difficult to keep the two metre distance.”

An HS2 spokeswoman added it might take until Friday for its sites to be put into a safe position to pause works, adding: “We will also maintain the necessary security at each of our sites, which is vital to ensuring we uphold our health and safety commitments.”

The Camden HS2 Information Centre was shut down last week.

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