One of the woolliest headlines to come out of the “Yeah, whatever, just get on with it” report from the HS2 Hybrid Bill Committee, was that they called for a “coherent approach” to the redevelopment of London’s Euston station, whatever that is supposed to mean.
It was only last year that it was announced that instead of there being the originally proposed eight year construction timetable at Euston, it would actually last at least seventeen years. We say ‘at least’ as 2017-2033 is the estimated timescale it will take HS2 Ltd to do the necessary bits for HS2, whilst they have said if Network Rail need to do any work to the station after that, that is up to them.
It was incredibly disappointing that not only did HS2 Ltd offer any real evidence as to how construction, and the closure of two of the approach tracks, would affect services on the West Coast Mainline and for how long, but also that the committee didn’t seem particularly interested about this, save there being an assurance from HS2 Ltd that they would attempt to ‘minimise disruption’.
Well, one organisation willing to hazard a guess as to what that disruption would mean is Go-Ahead, which operates the London Midland franchise out of Euston as a joint venture with French company Keolis. In its financial statements, Go-Ahead said HS2 could “significantly impact on our ability to run our services reliably, meet contractual obligations, and performance targets, or damage customer reputation”.
David Brown, the chief executive of Go Ahead added:
“We are slightly paranoid – we don’t want Euston to turn into London Bridge. We want to know that we can carry on providing a good service to existing customers. We’re trying to represent the passenger. I’m hoping everyone is very focused on making sure that doesn’t happen.”
As everyone dealing with HS2 Ltd over the last six years will testify, Brown may well soon realise that ‘hoping’ for HS2 Ltd to care about anything but building HS2 is hoping in vain.
Perhaps the most shameful episode of the committee process was the time it took them to get through petitions submitted by residents of Camden. Despite the fact the area contains the largest population affected by HS2 and the greatest number of different and distinct issues, petitioners more or less had a stopwatch held over them, as the process became nothing but a mad rush for the exit.
As such, it’s not a surprise that Camden residents turned out today to unwelcome HS2 Ltd as they felt the need to open some sort of community information hub thingy, earlier today.