Today, the Government has issued a press release concerning the redevelopment of Euston station, which will be required to make it the London terminus for HS2. However, the document ignores and contradicts much of the actual detail presented to Camden residents on 24th August and reported by Stop HS2 last week.
Most crucially, the Government claim that doing the rebuild in two stages, which is claimed will take sixteen years instead of the previously anticipated nine will mean; “Existing services can continue to operate, reducing both disruption for passengers and the effects on the community as a whole at any one time.”
However, this contradicts plans presented to residents last week which show that two of the approach lines (E and X) running into Euston will be decommissioned during construction, and that enabling works which require moving utilities will start before 2017, whilst construction phase ‘B2’ will continue after 2033.
HS2 Ltd have previously said Euston station would need to be closed for a period of 19 weekends, but have not made any comment about how much trains would be disrupted due to the removal of a third of the capacity on the approach tracks. In the original 2010 business case for HS2, £6m was highlighted to be needed in just one year for “Isolation, possession and Train Operating Company compensation costs in 2017/18 to support station work”, clearly showing there was significant disruption expected due to the Euston redevelopment. Whilst HS2 Ltd may claim things have changed, all of the mock up images issued accompanying their press release are dated as being produced in 2011.
It clear the decommissioning of lines ‘E’ and ‘X’ will have knock-on effects throughout the entire West Coast Mainline for years, a point validated by the Office of Rail and Road (formerly the Office of Rail Regulation), who when they granted GNWR permission to run additional services from Blackpool to London from 2018 last month, said the service would have to terminate at Queens Park due to a lack of line capacity running into Euston during HS2 construction. It is of significant concern that current services will be forced to terminate at Queens Park, leading to scenes similar to those seen at Finsbury Park at Christmas.
Camden Borough Council have slated the plans, claiming they ignore ‘The Euston Area Plan’, adopted by them and the Greater London Authority, which could provide up to 3,800 homes, up to 14,100 new jobs and new open spaces. The cite the fact that the King’s Cross development was built with close collaboration between key partners and viewing the area’s needs as a whole, lamenting that with Euston, HS2 Ltd are ignoring the needs of the community.
Stop HS2 Campaign Manager Joe Rukin responded:
“Typical of HS2 Ltd, they have issued a press release today which consists of some pretty pictures, grand words and absolutely no details whatsoever. Somehow the Government claim that doubling the construction period at Euston will somehow reduce the disruption for passengers and Camden residents. It is shameless not to mention that decommissioning two of the tracks will cut a third of the line capacity into Euston, which will have knock on effects for years throughout the entire West Coast Mainline. Issuing a press release without any detail of the construction timetable or the proposed service patterns during the build is meaningless, but true to form they will try and sneak out that bad news later and hope no-one notices.”
“The concept not to rebuild Euston in one hit but do it in two phases is completely bonkers and will only mean more disruption. HS2 Ltd documents clearly show the construction period is due to be longer that the 16 years, starting before 2017 and finishing after 2033. This announcement means two decades of rail chaos for anyone who plans to use the West Coast Mainline. The knock-on effects will be horrendous.”
Penny Gaines, Chair of Stop HS2, said;
“Whatever the Government claims about Euston, its increasing clear that the plans coming out next week aren’t about improving Euston and the surrounding area for ordinary travellers or local residents, all they are looking at is how to squash Euston and devastate Camden. This set of plans is entirely focused on HS2 and nothing else. To squeeze in the tracks and platforms for HS2, there will be decades of disruption. But there are no plans for improving the station for the use of ordinary travellers on conventional trains, and more crucially no funding for improving the rest of the station. While HS2 Ltd are happy to draw comparisons with Kings Cross station, they won’t work with the community, like they did with that station and are dropping the link from HS2 to HS1.”