Latest Rail News

08.03.13

Lords submit alternative route for HS2

An alternative proposal for how HS2 connects to Euston and HS1 could create better links within London with less local impact, Lords Bill Bradshaw and Tony Berkeley have argued.

The pair have submitted an alternative option, which they have urged transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin to investigate as “a matter of urgency”.

The route would include an east-west deep level tunnel with platforms, extending between Euston, St Pancras and Kings Cross. Fewer platforms would be needed and the route could use existing adapted Euston terminus, diverting WCML local suburban services into Crossrail near Old Oak Common.

Regional trains could travel through London and the Home Counties via Euston Cross, subject to timetabling and platform capacity, to free up further space at the Euston terminus for HS2. Such proposals could significantly reduce the environmental and residential impact of the route.

Building two single track tunnels from Old Oak Common, via Queens Park station, under Regents Park to a new east-west deep station (Euston Cross) under the Northern ends of Euston, St Pancras and Kings Cross stations would join HS1 tunnels between Stratford and St Pancras.

The two tunnels at Queens Park could be linked to the WCML lines, to allow HS2 UK-gauge trains to enter the existing Euston station.

Euston Cross would have at least two pairs of two platforms (more if separate ones are needed for any through international trains calling), and would link the three main line surface stations and Underground ones.

The plan has been described as “largely cost neutral”, omitting many currently proposed works and substituting others; and “avoids the current poor value for money HS2-HS1 scheme” by maximising international connectivity through direct passenger links between Euston and St Pancras.

Other benefits would include a national intercity passenger hub for Central London, serving all Midlands, North, Central and North Wales, and Scottish destinations; full integration of northern main line intercity and high speed routes with minimal disturbance to passengers’ familiarity with stations and relief of interchange pressure at Euston as HS2 load is distributed also across St Pancras and Kings Cross.

The Lords said: “We believe that this has many transport and cost benefits, and that making the changes required now would still allow HS2 to be built and operated as far as Old Oak Common, with good connections to Crossrail, even if the remainder of the works at Euston and beyond took a little longer to complete.”

Lord Berkeley, chair of the Rail Freight Group, sits on RTM’s editorial board.

Tell us what you think – have your say below, or email us directly at opinion@railtechnologymagazine.com

Comments

Geoff Steel   08/03/2013 at 16:51

This is a really good idea as the current proposal for Euston as the HS2 terminus is not a good idea and the current proposed link to from HS1 does not seem anywhere near robust enough. in fact, Euston has very poor links to other parts of the rail network. Linking the WCML outer surburban trains to Crossrail (see L&SE Route Utilisation study by NR) is a great idea too as it would also allow a contraflow of Kent HS services to use the same tunnel and travel out to places like Watford Junction and Milton Keynes and Northampton. My only reservation is that with all the new cross london journey opportunities that this could generate suggests that a two track link would not be enough. Anyway it certainly gets my vote and let's hope it gets due consideration before it's too late

Chris   09/03/2013 at 13:12

I can see what they're trying to do, reducing the number of platforms by allowing services to continue onto HS1, but where do they go? Even if there was sufficient capacity border controls do not allow combined domestic and international services, there's no demand for 400m domestic services restricted to the high speed network, and Stratford has neither the room nor the track layout to act as a terminus - i'm not sure it's viable to bore a second pair of tunnels into the station box at Stratford International anyway. This 'largely(!) cost neutral' scheme is also rather vague about Euston, which needs rebuilding to some extent regardless of HS2 - 'adapting' Euston for 400m trains is hardly simple. It's also likely to damage the business case for extending the dedicated high speed network, as Classic Compatible services into Euston could not be exchanged for Captive sets without going back to the current plans or tunnelling new underground platforms. Diverting WCML suburban services onto Crossrail is by no means a straightforward popular option either. I'm just not convinced this has been thought through from an operational point of view, even if it was technically feasible.

Stephenc   09/03/2013 at 15:14

I'm one of those that support railway investment, but have found myself sitting on the fence about HS2, on the basis that it has a number of aspects that are far from ideal. The HS2-HS1 link was one of those very poor aspects, and this excellent proposal tackles that link head on. The proposal would work best as follows. All Birmingham services, and any direct European services, would run though Euston Cross. This would result in 4tph less at Euston. Terminating those services in Euston Cross wouldn't be especially viable, so they'd need to run through. Stratford isn't a suitable terminus either, but Ebbsfleet or Ashford would be (easy to build extra terminus platforms there). Thus 2tph or 3tph from Ashford/Ebbsfleet to Birmingham. If a few Javelin services could use it too, travelling on to Reading or Milton Keynes, then all the better. The key is that this completely changes UK connectivity from Kent and South East London (plus to a lesser degree Stratford). Kent to Birmingham direct, to Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds and also GWML destinations would change at OOC. Basically, this proposal would move HS2 a full notch up the "acceptability" scale for me.

Chris   09/03/2013 at 18:34

It must be understood that the HS1-2 link is NOT commercially viable - the NLL option was chosen because it is the cheapest. Better options have always been available, but the benefits do not justify the expense - that applies just as much to tunnelling to Stratford and spending vast amounts on underground platforms.

Saintsman   26/03/2013 at 23:43

The Euston Cross idea has significant merit. The current HS1-HS2 link plans via Primrose Hill is a major threat to London Overground and freight ambitions. That scheme, as it stands is constrained, very poor fudge which requires a better solution. Bringing some HS2 services under Regent's Park to new deep level Euston Cross platforms gives a real connection between HS1 and HS2. International through services are highly unlikely with current border control arrangements. However it is extremely shortsighted not to build infrastructure which would allow these to be possible in future. Two main unanswered questions 1) As the Euston Cross proposal now stands the actual connection to HS1 is unclear. It appears that this junction would be in the current HS1 tunnel east of St Pancras which may be problematic in itself, not to mention disruptive to implement. Stratford is 8km+ away so expensive to bore all the way. 2) Such HS1-HS2 domestic connecting services won't terminate at the London terminals, which means capacity on HS1 could limit HS2 services which must travel on to Kent, This causes concern if/when international services expand. Initial Birmingham to Kent does seem the obvious initial use. Crossrail 1 extension to Milton Keynes is a seperate decision, but would help the Euston rebuild by diverting services. Crossrail 2 which would help disperse HS2 travellers under revised plans would already require mass evacuation solutions. If the EustonCross platforms were interconnected some building costs for both projects can be offset. HS2 is already talked about at near capacity in the London approaches one the Y is complete, so extra destinations are unlikely for HS1. Reducing Euston rebuilding costs and careful design integration with Crossrail 2 Euson/ Kings Cross-St Pancras will generate funds for Euston Cross. It is doubtful that these savings will fund the scheme in full as optimistically hoped, however the extra costs still make

John   30/03/2013 at 09:49

This is a waste of money when overall viewing HS2. The city of Liverpool and Merseyside have been left off HS2. The train runs on snail-rail 50 miles from the city while Manchester next door gets a 7.5 mile tunnel and a link to its airport. Yet HS2 will be only 15 miles away. There are about three or four easy enough routes into Liverpool, which has an extensive existing and mothballed rail infrastructure left by the Victorians. including opening up the old Exchange station for only HS2, which is now surface car parking. This proposal involves long expensive tunnels. The whole scheme adds little value and is just another expensive needless rail project like Crossrail. The Crossrail money should have been spent on updating the existing Tube. Some platforms, being too narrow, with passengers moving back and forth for connections clearly dangerous. Improving safety and ambience is vital, not expensive vanity projects. HSR was supposed to link all major UK cities. It does no such thing. Another project tat should be canned until it meets the original goals.

Les F   05/04/2013 at 20:28

This is a worthy debate gents. You have all sensed that there is something horribly wrong with HS2 but I don't think any of you have hit on the answer. Keep at it. The truth is out there.

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