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11.12.15

HS2 line closure powers ‘wider-reaching than feared’ – London TravelWatch

London TravelWatch has intensified calls for the government to amend the HS2 phase 1 Bill after discovering that a clause in the document would allow the company to shut down services on any line without a formal consultation process beforehand.

In its policy meeting due to take place on Tuesday (15 December), the body will recommend that its maintains its petition against the HS2 Bill after finding out that the proposed exemption from the statutory closure process is wider-reaching than it originally thought.

Clause 39 in the Bill states that transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin can exempt service closures from statutory closure provisions whenever he considers it necessary to carry out works or operate Hs2. Among other things, these provisions “require an assessment of whether a closure meets the criteria set out in guidance, and consultation on proposed closures”.

Stephen Locke, chair of London TravelWatch, already indicated that it was not clear whether this clause would only apply to services provided by or on HS2, or if it could be used more widely to services the operate on lines that would be affected by HS2’s construction.

In an agenda paper for its board meeting next week, the body, part of the London Transport Users Committee, said: “Since we lodged our petition against the proposed exemption from the statutory closure process, we have found that this is actually wider-reaching than feared.

“The plans would allow HS2 Ltd to summarily close any lie in order to construct or operate HS2, without any formal consultation process. There is ambiguity in whether this is until the opening of Hs2, or in perpetuity, but either is unacceptable.”

The body acknowledged HS2 Ltd’s commitment to consult with TravelWatch members, but said this would not take the form of a formal consultation process.

As a result, it is set to amend the original petition to reflect changes in the proposals, as well as add new concerns that the redevelopment of the Network Rail elements of Euston station must be planned alongside the HS2 station, and fully integrated.

On the station, the board said: “The proposals for Euston station now include significantly better permeability, but still without an entrance/exit to the north-east/east quadrant (for Somers Town and King’s Cross St Pancras), and the entrance/exit to Eversholt Street to the east would still maintain the existing level of difference.

“This is due to the HS2 works not changing the facilities provided by the current Network Rail station, which forms the north-east/east barrier.”

But it recognised that the proposals for the interchange from the new HS2 terminal at Euston and the London Underground stations at Euston and Euston square “are now improved and would be welcomed”.

Comments

Lutz   12/12/2015 at 09:31

What would be the practical outcome of the clause; shorter time to delivery. An arguement over a trivial matter since any closure would necessitate alternative arrangements of a practical nature.

Huguenot   12/12/2015 at 10:35

Temporary closures might be justified during construction works if there is no alternative, but permanent closures are unacceptable. I particularly have in mind the former GW route between Old Oak Common and Northolt Junction via Greenford which is used by freight in order to relieve the GW main line (particularly aggregates from Banbury Road terminal near Oxford and waste to Calvert), and also which Chiltern Railways wants to use to gain access to Old Oak Common station for interchange with Crossrail, Heathrow and HS2. To provide a little more capacity at Euston (one platform's worth), get London Overground out of Euston altogether and divert the Watford 'DC' service via Primrose Hill (reopen) to Highbury & Islington, linking up with the East London Line service.

Lutz   15/12/2015 at 18:01

There is no reason for permanent closures to automatically qualify as being unacceptable; new infrastructure can make existing path ways either surplus to requirements, or no-longer cost effective for example.

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