It’s been clear from the start that using Euston as the London terminus for HS2 was going to have a catastrophic effect on existing users of Euston. Recent freedom of information requests have revealed that train operating companies are extremely concerned about the effects of the HS2 plans on their passengers.
The government are arguing that HS2 is needed for capacity on the railways. However the HS2 plans will massively reduce capacity at Euston during the ten year construction period, but there will be a permanent reduction for ordinary trains.
Currently there are 18 platforms and 6 approach tracks into Euston. However starting in 2016, a decade before HS2 is due to start running, these will be permanently reduced to 13 platforms and 4 approach tracks for conventional trains. This will lead to a reduction in the number of trains able to use Euston – and minutes of meetings between HS2 Ltd, Network Rail and the DfT identified train service capacity as “a key concern”.
It is likely that at least two peak hour services between Watford and Euston will be removed from the timetable.
The DfT and train operating companies were also concerned that “HS2 Ltd’s timetable proposals may have included insufficient trains to accommodate growth to 2026. ” Given that HS2 Ltd have claimed all along that HS2 is needed to meet their growth predictions, they seem remarkably blinkered about the needs of the railway using public.
At a summit in November 2013, the notes released by the DfT say
“General TOC consensus that the HS2 proposals for the train working and timetable of the existing services are unworkable as set out and that “something” would have to give to make things work and that the “something” may come down to a choice between accepting a poorer PPM than exists today or taking trains out if there is no flex in any other aspect of the scheme.“
In addition, the time that individual trains can stay in the station will be reduced. Currently long distance Virgin trains typically have a turnaround time of 45-50 minutes, but the HS2 plans would mean this reduced to 25 minutes. There will be no time for servicing or cleaning of the trains, or flexibility in case of delayed incoming trains, and passengers will have to stand on the concourse until just before departure.
Local trains will have even shorter turnaround times according to HS2 plans – 10 minutes for London Midland services.
Given that HS2 will cost at least £50 billion, it’s becoming increasingly clear that it is a project that serves the needs of a small and specific group of people only – the industry proponents of HS2 and the politicians who want to be associated with this vanity project.