Backpedaling on an HS1 link?

Since December 2010, politicians and HS2 Ltd staff have been promoting HS2 with promises of a link trough to Europe from HS2. However, even though the distance is short between Euston and St Pancras, there would be major difficulties with fitting in extra trains on the North London Line, as we reported last year – The HS2/HS1 link.

Last week Stephen Timms, Labour MP for East Ham in East London asked a written question about the link

Stephen Timms: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) over what time period he is assessing the proposed link between HS1 and HS2 will provide sufficient capacity; and if he will make a statement; [137692]

(2) whether Transport for London, Network Rail and HS2 Ltd have assessed whether the proposed link between HS1 and HS2 will provide sufficient capacity for the foreseeable future; and if he will make a statement. [137695]

Mr Simon Burns: The expected demand for international passengers wishing to travel to/from regional UK cities directly to/from the continent was last assessed in September 2010 for which forecasts were produced for the year 2031. While there remains a strategic case for linking HS2 with HS1 and the channel tunnel, the analysis has shown that even in 2031 the expected international market is relatively small compared to the domestic market. My officials are continuing to work with HS2 Ltd to identify the best approach for providing the link.

Transport for London, Network Rail and HS2 Ltd have all provided service predictions for this part of the route for the foreseeable future. These forecasts have informed the design of the link along the North London Line. HS2 Ltd continues to work closely with TfL and Network Rail to consider the operational requirements of the link and a number of proposals have been considered.

The idea of direct trains from Europe to the North has already been used to promote a rail plan – and then dropped before the line was built.

A 1998 brochure for the Channel Tunnel Rail Link  promised

“…Regional Eurostar trains can run directly to and from the West Midlands and the North West. From St Pancras, Regional Eurostars can reach the East Coast Main Line to serve Yorkshire, the North East and Scotland.”

However, as Frank Dobson pointed out that connection proved too difficult to put in:

“When HS1 was being built, I recall that the people from Bechtel looked at the possibility of using the North London line as the route into St Pancras. They decided that the cuttings, embankments and bridges along that line were so lousy that it would be cheaper to bore through to St Pancras, which was a considerable distance. When I pointed that out to someone from HS2, they were unaware of that small and apparently irrelevant fact.”

Given last week’s statement, are the Government quietly softening the public up to drop the Eurostar connection to the North, again?

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One comment on “Backpedaling on an HS1 link?
  1. Out of curiosity… why isn’t HS2 going into the Crossrail tunnel at Old Oak Common, and going onward towards Europe via the HS1 route from Abbey Wood/Ebbsfleet and Stratford? Tottenham Court Road would be a much more central station for HS2 than Euston, without all that demolition work around Camden, and would give access to everything that Crossrail 2 would anyway.

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