Originally published on the 51M website.
Congestion on the London Underground following the opening of the proposed high-speed rail link between the capital and Birmingham will be so bad that key stations will have to close every morning to prevent a crush, transport chiefs have warned.
Daniel Moylan, the deputy chairman of Transport for London (TfL), told the chairman of High Speed Two (HS2) that there is “simply no space” for the thousands of extra commuters who would pour into London’s Euston station on a daily basis once the rail link opens.
He said that without a major expansion of the station, the only way for the estimated 13,400 extra rush hour passengers to be accommodated would be for Euston to close every morning to ease the congestion, “completely undermining the time-saving benefits of HS2”.
In a letter obtained by The Daily Telegraph under the Freedom of Information Act, Mr Moylan told Sir Brian Briscoe that the Victoria and Northern lines – which are the Tube’s main north-south artery routes – would be swamped with extra passengers.
He wrote: “There is simply no space for this volume of additional passengers without having to close Euston Underground station on a daily basis, completely undermining the time-saving benefits of HS2.”
The proposed train line will cut the journey time between London and Birmingham to less than 50 minutes.
However the project has drawn wide-spread criticism as it slices through areas of outstanding natural beauty, including the Chiltern Hills.
The 250mph train line, which will not open until 2026, is likely to cost around £33 billion, which critics say is a waste of money. The Department for Transport has received 55,000 responses to a consultation on its plans for HS2.
If the controversial link goes ahead, TfL estimates that by 2033 the number of people wanting to use the Victoria line from Euston station during the morning rush hour will double from 4,353 to 8,373. Mr Moylan said that the waiting time to use the Victoria line would be around 30 minutes.
Meanwhile demand for the southbound Northern line, which connects Euston with the City, would increase from 5,286 to 10,167.
HS2 expects there to be a total of 13,400 extra people passing through Euston during the morning rush hour.
In his letter, Mr Moylan said that Sir Brian Briscoe that TfL has identified the need to add “further Underground capacity” to Euston.
“The need for this is not driven solely by HS2 but by a combination of HS2 and general growth in demand over the period to 2043,” said Mr Moylan.
He said that the proposed high-speed link “make it a necessity for this capacity to be in place prior to the peak HS2 demand coming on stream – demand that will add two and a half times as many arrivals to Euston compared to today”.
Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, has said that improving the transport is “a necessity”. However he has been highly critical of some of HS2’s plans.
A spokesman for HS2 said: “If the decision is taken to proceed with HS2, we forecast the first phase of the project would add a relatively small two per cent to the predicted future underground passenger numbers at Euston.
“HS2 Ltd would obviously work closely with TfL on the redevelopment of the mainline station, which could provide valuable opportunities for improving access to the tube network for rail passengers and others at Euston.”
A spokesperson for 51m said, “this issue was highlighted by Mr Moylan in his evidence to the Transport Select Committee in the summer. It is another fundamental problem with the scheme that remains unresolved. The response from the Department for Transport continues to be very selective – refering only to the Birmingman to London section rather than the whole network. TfL estimates a new underground line to cope with the increase in passenger numbers for the entire Y route will cost up to £9 billion – a figure not included in the schem’s budget.”
The Transport Select Committee in its report on HS2 published in November said the Government must explain in detail why the scheme it favours is better than alternative solutions, including those put forward by its own advisors. In addition to this major issue, the impact on Euston Station itself will be devasting, causing eight years of misery for commuters.
The 51m spokesperson added, “With the case for HS2 in complete disarray the Transport Secretary must call a halt to HS2 and go back to the drawing board. High Speed 2 is a reckless gamble the country’s finances cannot afford.”