Quaking or laughing over Euston U-turn plans

Nothing can be more annoying for a politician then the sense that their officials are laughing at them – especially if they were trying to be taken seriously.  But that seems to be what is happening with Euston.

A month after John Hayes, transport minister, threatened to leave officials “quaking” over Hayes’ commitment to get the plans for Euston out by September, the latest batch of plans were shown at a meeting with Camden Council on Monday.

John Hayes had said “we do not want some vile, low-budget, modern monstrosity”, but a “neoclassical building on a grand scale”: instead of a grand new building, these plans are much more like the “lean-to affixed to a shed” earlier HS2 Ltd plans for Euston.

While we don’t mind his officials laughing at John Hayes, this new version is a bad joke for the people of Camden.

Details were first made public in a Camden New Journal article, which said

HS2 chiefs have performed an “astonishing” triple u-turn after appearing to ditch the plan to demolish Euston Station in favour of an old scheme that was scrapped last year following an intervention by the Chancellor George Osborne….

The slides show a return to the idea of wedging a shed containing six high speed rail platforms on the west side of Euston Station, which would open in 2026. Five more platforms would be built inside the current station after 2034 in a move that could extend building works in Camden into the 2040s.

Camden Council has since issued their view of the latest proposal, with Councillor Sarah Hayward, Leader of Camden Council, saying:

“We’re pretty appalled by what we were shown at the Euston Community meeting on Monday night. Government ministers promised that the community would be consulted on options for a comprehensive redevelopment of the station. Instead we’ve been presented with a fait accompli that extends the end date of the building works from 2026 to nearly 2040 and does nothing to deal with the current substandard station.

“Sadly, although I’m shocked, I’m not surprised and we’ll need to work out the next steps. If this scheme goes ahead Camden will be blighted for decades and there’ll be no extra jobs or homes at Euston station.”

 In addition, this new set of plans goes back to the ideas criticised by both George Osborne and David Higgins, chair of HS2 Ltd. Last year, George Osborne told the Evening Standard: “I’m thinking that maybe we should go for a really big re-development of Euston.” And in the HS2 Plus report, David Higgins, chair of HS2 Ltd said we should be “more ambitious about Euston to create a station that lasts”, and was looking to build it with finical contributions from development companies.

Rather than Hayes’ grandiose plans it seems Frankenstein’s monster of bolted on bits is the inspiration for HS2 Ltd.

PS Camden Council say the plans would:

Adopt a phased approach that would see:
o The first 6 High speed lines built to the west of the station by 2026
o The second 5 high speed lines built within the station by 2033
o The re-development of the classic (eastern) side of the station being re-developed by Network Rail at an unspecified time in the future.



4 comments to “Quaking or laughing over Euston U-turn plans”
  1. The East Coast of England offers the nation a much lower cost enhancement and with London end splitting between Euston and Kings Cross/St Pancras all the London connections are possible. Adonis did not consider all the issues with Sir David Rowlands leading to the entrapment of MPs into a very costly and incomplete proposal. The DFT and the Government could suspend the current HS2 and start again and reduce the total cost and widen the local and regional benefits for more commuters and travellers. The MPs have had an attempt and the result is thumbs down by the public and people in the Railway sector. Time to change before the additional expenditure becomes more of drain on the nations growing debt. Some ECML drivers and guards do not believe HS2 have produced the right plan for the future. East Coast offers more than the West Coast for additiona tracks and removal of current bottlenecks.

  2. Why can’t HS2 Ltd. follow best international high speed practice and build a through station that would not only require less space, but also cost less. It could also permit easy connection between HS2 and Thameslink which is far more valuable than a connection with Crossrail as far many more places could be served with only one change. It could also link easier into HS1.

    • As Christian Wolmar writes in ‘Rail’ 768, p 42, this week,

      “One foible of Britain’s railways is that they were never planned out in a systematic way. Rather they came about as a result of raw capitalist enterprise, mitigated (only slightly) by Parliamentary considerations…”

      Each (rival) company did their own thing, in some cases dupicating the routes of others in order to share valuable traffic, or to deny it to the opposition, while the Government seemed to prefer avoiding a monopoly, even if those companies could ill afford to do the job properly .

      In the case of London, the City resisted the building of lines into the centre and therefore the various terminal stations were built in an arc,outside the central heart, and in the early days , on the edge of then open country.

      As the city expanded green fields were urbanised and villages became suburbs – so when any large scale development, road or rail, was planned, it became more and more difficult and disruptive.

      When the ‘last main line’ was built into Marylebone in the 1890s, hundreds of houses including an entire square had to be demolished to make room.

      At the end of World War 11, there were ambitious plans put forward fo among other things, rebuilding the railways in London Joining them up and putting them underground, as the railway viaducts and the,mainly, steam hauled trains were regarded as unsightly and polluting barriers to Abercromdie’s vision of a reconstructed post war city .
      Needless to say, it was never implemented and now we read of schemes to bury the major urban roads in tunnels, to reduce pollution and create space.

      And it’s SPACE which is still the problem.

      With land commanding such high prices and so much land around the rail termini having been sold off, just where can expansion take place?

      In the (then derelict) area between the approach tracks to St.Pancras and Kings Cross, a large station was projected for both High Speed 1 and future fast lines -including what would become HS2…a future hub.

      But this was abandoned, mainly on the grounds of cost, and the ‘Kings Cross Lands’ released for development.

      St. Pancras was saved and subsequently Kings Cross station was also refurbished …but the Midland services were shoved back nearly a quarter of a mile, in favour of Eurostar, and you have to be clever to find your way through the shopping centre to find the South Eastern ‘Javelin’ trains to Kent. And, if more expansion is required…where would that go?

      Short sighted planning nearly lost us St. Pancras, but the goods station next door, which could have provided a space for domestic HS services, became instead the site of the British Library.

      It seems the only way to squeeze in extra ,or as suggested ,through tracks , on these sites , hemmed in as they are by development, is to go multi level, as in some German city stations. But that too is horrendously expensive. Even then as in Stuttgart, attempts to turn a terminous into a through line provoked a huge reaction and demonstrations, as told previously on this site.

      Birmingham New Street, already a through station, of course, is still dreadfully constricted down at track level . It needs more space on the approaches and an extra approach tunnel ..for all its hugely improved passenger facilities above. But nobody is planning to build an extra tunnel…

      London Bridge is gaining extra through tracks, but the total rebuild is costing tens of millions and disrupting services for several years.

      In contrast, the Reading rebuilding and expansion is possible because the former Royal Mail depot provided space to enlarge the station.

      • Your point is ?

        I think your point is that we can’t have a through station. In which case HS2 and HS 1 could never properly be joined up — further undermining the already weak case.

        As for through stations — have you been to Farringdon lately ?

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