Rail Industry Focus

01.05.15

The new-look Euston – for now

Source: RTM Apr/May 15

Adam Hewitt reports on the renovation of Euston station, and the longer-term future under HS2’s plans.

The lay-out, interior and mix of shops and restaurants at Euston are being overhauled under a £12.5m renovation. New food and drink establishments are opening from May, giving more options to the 71 million people who use the station annually. 

Three eateries are opening during May on the piazza, and three more on the new balcony in late June. A new pub is replacing the old Britannia bar later in the year, following extensive structural renovation. Four new shops will open this autumn. 

The ‘balcony development scheme’ includes a total of more than 11,000 sq ft of food and beverage space, away from the busy station concourse – a successful idea when implemented at King’s Cross and other stations. 

Balfour Beatty won an £8m contract to design and implement the refurbishment in August 2014. 

Network Rail head of retail, Samantha Turner, said: “People will soon benefit from a complementary mix of premium, convenient, grab and go offers along with a number of dine-in options.” 

The overall layout of the station will be far more user-friendly, Network Rail says, while the extra money brought in by the new retail units will be reinvested in the railway infrastructure. During CP4, Network Rail generated £1.4bn from commercial activities for reinvestment. 

HS2 and the ‘triple u-turn’ at Euston 

The longer-term future of Euston remains cloudy, with plans for the rebuild to prepare the station to be the London terminus for HS2 having been rethought a number of times. 

The local paper, the Camden New Journal, described the latest reversal as an “astonishing triple u-turn”. It marked a return to a version of the 2013 plans (scrapped last year), under which the station is not demolished and six high-speed platforms are built in a separate structure west of the current building. This would open in 2026, with five more platforms built inside the current station to open in 2034. 

The original (circa 2012) plan was to demolish and rebuild the station and all its platforms on a lower level, as a joint station for HS2 and the classic network (scheme ‘B1’). 

But this was dropped in January 2013 as being too expensive and disruptive. The replacement idea (‘Option 8’) published in April 2013, was to keep platforms 1-15 (of Euston’s 18 platforms) at their current level with some modifications (removing platforms 9 and 10 so neighbouring platforms could be lengthened – resulting in 13 long platforms) but improving the station around them, with a new concourse. Eleven new platforms for high-speed trains would be built next to the existing platforms. This would all have been complete by 2026, alongside a new Underground ticket hall and sub-surface pedestrian link to Euston Square station. It was opposed locally (Camden Council called it “in our opinion the worst of the possibilities”). 

This idea was then itself scrapped in March 2014 following an intervention by chancellor George Osborne, who wanted a grand redevelopment of the whole area, backed by mayor of London Boris Johnson and HS2 chair Sir David Higgins. The Department for Transport called that a “significant opportunity to generate private sector investment”. 

The government rejected an alternative two-deck local proposal known as the ‘Double Deck Down 2’ (DDD2) following advice from Network Rail. 

But by November 2014, it became clear that HS2’s own new business case did not stack up either, and there were even mutterings that the ongoing problems could result in Euston being left out of HS2 altogether, with the terminus shifting to Old Oak Common. This is not acceptable to the government, as it undermines much of the original case for HS2. 

The current version of the scheme was unveiled in February and March 2015. It is the third official proposal by HS2 Ltd in two years. Although it has similarities to ‘Option 8’, the construction timeframe is longer. This is because the 2026 deadline requires only six or seven new platforms for phase 1 services to and from Birmingham – the other six platforms are not technically required until phase 2 opens in 2033. 

HS2 spokesman Ben Ruse said: “All the parties involved are currently looking at the best approach to deliver a redeveloped Euston station that positively transforms the area while minimising the impact on residents and passengers. 

“The phased delivery option will reduce construction impact, minimise disruption to existing passengers, deliver HS2 on time, on budget and help provide long-term benefits and opportunities for the community. 

“Much like the redevelopment of the King’s Cross St Pancras area with its new jobs, opportunities, housing and community assets, this is a long-term project that will keep developing during the coming months and years.”

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