Euston ‘won’t cope with high-speed link’

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.”

6 comments to “Euston ‘won’t cope with high-speed link’”
  1. The Euston redevelopment documents contains a note about extending the Euston Square platforms into the station, so that Circle, H&C and Met trains would effectively add their capacity to the underground service at Euston. Not that it would help much – there’s no extra services as such, just a reshuffling of numbers. With the Chelney Line as well, Euston and King’s Cross are becoming more and more alike!

  2. I have never called myself an expert on anything. My experience is published on my website; what you call it is up to you.

    To answer your questions in order:
    1) Yes
    2) No
    3) Yes, but that isn’t what I actually said

    What I actually said about the Coventry – MK service is that there isn’t a train appropriate for taking commuters to work there. These are your choices:

    08:51, gets to MK at 09:18 which is too late for most offices. If you miss it or anything goes wrong there isn’t another for an hour – try turning up at your office at 1030 more than a couple of times and the p45s will soon be rustling;
    07:21, stopping train via Northampton, takes an hour, you might as well catch the …
    07:11, gets to MK at 07:40, which far too early for most offices.

    So as a Coventry – MK commuter, please tell me which of those trains you think does the job for you?

    This gap arises because the 07:50 from Birmingham doesn’t stop at MK, whilst the 07:30 from Birmingham doesn’t stop at Coventry either, so as to get a once a day spectacular running time to London of 72 minutes.

    I think this is a diabolical service for two cities of their size so close together, especially when Coventry has an engineering tradition and Network Rail is creating engineering management jobs at MK hand over fist at its new HQ. This can only get worse for Coventry as demand grows for faster services from Birmingham. Note that the RP2 variants themselves cut Coventry from 3 out of 3 Birmingham – Euston trains per hour to 2 out of 4.

    It comes down to what I did say to the Telegraph, that the West Coast Main Line is one railway trying to do several jobs, and so not doing any of them particularly well.

    As for the effect of HS2 on Coventry, what I am on record as saying is that there are pluses and minuses, and that the 1 train per hour assumed in HS2 modelling could and should be at least 2 per hour on the basis of the traffic demand for the intermediate stations between Birmingham and London. A probable (although the latest Network Rail study does actually show 3 tph) reduction in the London service from the current station is a minus, but the equally likely improvement in the links to Rugby, Northampton, MK and Watford is a plus. Having the HS2 Birmingham Interchange station is a plus for those who currently drive to Coventry as their railhead. What you need is for your MPs to engage in the debate with a view to minimising the minuses and maximising the pluses, or else you will indeed end up with the worst of all worlds.

    So now will you answer me two questions yourself:
    1) So what?
    2) What exactly in what I said about HS2 and Euston do you contradict?

    • As far as your two questions go :

      1 ) So what ? — I can’t answer that because I don’t know what you are asking So what ? to .

      2 ) What do I disagree with about your Euston assessment ? Well I guess the fact that 35 % of the people on the HS2 trains ( according to HS2 Ltd ) wouldn’t otherwise be taking a train — 13 % are from cars or planes ( you could say that is good ) and 22 % wouldn’t otherwise be travelling ( you could say that is bad ) — comes into it.. Then of course once phase 2 comes into operation all those people from Leeds, Sheffield and maybe Nottingham get dumped at Euston when they would previously get out at Kings Cross or St Pancras.

      Having just read your July 2011 work again I have to say it reads more like a political essay than anything else. You final paragraph which starts ” Cancel HS2 and you will never hear from the likes of HS2AA or AGHAST again” clearly betrays your prejudices. Even the title of the work ” Why High-Speed Rail is the Only Viable Solution ” is interesting. The word viable is defined in the Oxford Dictionary as 1. feasible, esp ECONOMICALLY , 2. capable of developing and SURVIVING INDEPENDENTLY.

      There is no doubt that longer trains and platforms and some upgrade works at bottle necks can add significant capacity. I do not claim that it adds as much as HS2. But it sure costs a fraction of the more than £ 30 billion that HS2 costs. You make no reference to the cost in your work.

      As regards Coventry, I’m glad we have established that there is a service to Milton Keynes. In fact a commuter could get a train to arrive in MK at 7.40, 8.21, 9.01 or 9.18. That’s not a bad choice and the story is the same with Rugby and Northampton. The problems are more to do with Leicester ( no direct service ) and Oxford ( one very short train every hour ) and some investment there would be good. We don’t need extra trains to Birmingham either. But we would like to keep our 3 fast trains to London every hour.

      I am pleased that you are honest enough to admit that the 3 fast trains wouldn’t continue unlike some of the spin that I have heard.

      • In my timetable, the 0901 arrival at MK (that’s the only one that bears any reasonable relationship to office hours, and even so is on the late side for most) comes from Nuneaton not Coventry. So the situation is as I gave it, pretty poor. When I tweeted something on these lines, a response came from someone who didn’t sound very pro-HS2 “I agree, that’s why i drive!).

        How long do you think Coventry is going to keep 3 tph to London anyway, as pressure to run non-stop from Birmingham grows? Meanwhile, see for a view on what could happen after HS2, still shows 3 tph direct to London, though logically they would make one or two more stops. GIven the current poor service between Watford, MK, Rugby and Coventry, I feel sure that there will be sufficienht extra traffic to justify this frequency once it becomes possible to offer it.

        I don’t think you have contradicted my point about Euston, that the extra load deriving from HS2 Phase 2 (which is all that TfL are concerned about) cannot logically be said to trigger the need for a new tube line, simply strengthen slightly the case for what is a good idea anyway.

        As to “So what?”, I was expecting some sort of follow-up to your questions as to who I am, probably the hoary old chestnut “So you’ve got a vested interest in HS2, then”. For the record, I’d be more likely to get professional work out of conventional upgrades, as that is where most of my experience lies, which means I know enough about them to know that they won’t do the job that needs doing.

        All the best,


  3. In evidence to the Transport Select Committee, Moylan clearly accepted that Euston could cope with Phase 1 of HS2.

    Naturally he and Boris and trying to pitch for Crossrail 2. The issue is not that HS2 to Euston calls for a whole new tube line, but that the one they want anyway should be diverted via Euston. Frankly, I don’t know why it isn’t planned that way already, TfL have no other solution to baseload demand from Euston.

    The problem if any is a Phase 2 thing. But trying to blame HS2 for triggering Crossrail 2 is not valid. Think about it. Phase 1 calls for 14 HS2 trains per hour, whilst Phase 2 could deliver 18. So the increment with Phase 2 is 4 tph.

    Now, a Crossrail train and an HS2 train have much the same capacity, around 1000. So, assuming that everyone off these extra four trains wants to get the Underground from Euston, no-one changes to Crossrail at OOC, and none of the extra Phase 2 trains is actually going to Heathrow or HS1 instead of to Euston in the first place, the extra load HS2 places on Euston equates to four Crossrail 2 trains, on a line that would be built for 24 tph and ultimately capable of carrying 30 tph. More likely, given other means of distribution fromEuston, and via Old Oak, the HS2 Phase 2 load will equate to one or two Crossrail 2 trains.

    So compared with just expected growth over the years, the most that can be said about HS2 and Crossrail 2 is that it brings the need for it forward by a year or two. Meanwhile the rebuilding of Euston (next up for a rebuild anyway), currently all charged to HS2, will bring major benefits to Underground and commuting passengers alike.

    The passengers are coming anyway – it is the so-called alternatives that leave them nowhere to go except the existing Underground from Euston.

    • Are you the author of the July 2011 paper ” Why High-Speed Rail is the Only Viable Solution : a critique of Rail Package Two ” ? The ” rail expert ” who recently argued that Coventry would be better off with HS2 despite accepting that it would have a worse service to London because people could drive 15 miles the wrong way to pick up a fast train from the NEC , the ” rail expert ” who according to the Coventry Telegraph said that Coventry didn’t currently have a service to Milton Keynes ?

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