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Peers and HS2 officials to discuss alternative ‘Euston Cross’ plan

The peers who proposed an alternative London terminus for HS2 – the ‘Euston Cross’ plan – have welcomed the decision to abandon plans to demolish and rebuild Euston.

Lord Bradshaw and Lord Berkeley, chairman of the Rail Freight Group and a member of RTM’s editorial board, said their alternative would provide “a combined Euston Cross station complex for all Midlands, Northern and Scottish intercity and high speed railways, with extensive passenger transfer capability”.

They said: “Now that DfT has scrapped the Euston and Camden demolition plans for HS2, let us have a modern underground interchange to connect stations and HS1-2.”

Their alternative plans were submitted to the transport secretary in February. They involve an east-west deep-level HS2 tunnel with platforms extending between Euston, St Pancras and Kings Cross, replacing additional Euston terminal capacity, and located under the northern part of those termini.

HS2 trains would also use the existing (adapted) Euston terminus, as many are direct replacements of the existing West Coast Main Line (WCML) intercity services.

The peers said they are meeting HS2 and officials this week to discuss this option.

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email [email protected]

The Euston Cross proposal is reproduced below:


A combined Euston Cross station complex for all Midlands, Northern and Scottish intercity and high speed railways, with extensive passenger transfer capability.

Achieved by east-west deep-level HS2 tunnel with platforms, extending between Euston, St Pancras and Kings Cross, replacing additional Euston terminal capacity, and located under the northern part of those termini. Fewer platforms needed with through train operations.

HS2 trains would also use the existing (adapted) Euston terminus, as many are direct replacements of the existing West Coast Main Line (WCML) intercity services. Capacity is freed up at Euston terminus, eg by diversion of existing suburban trains to Crossrail.

Key wins are:

• Greater national and London/Home Counties economic capacity: avoids most economic negatives caused by land take in the Euston area.

• Largely cost-neutral: omits many current HS2 proposed works including high-risk elements, substitutes others.

• Capability of phased development: eases financial pressures on national economy.

• Environmentally much stronger compared to current HS2 proposals: Less residential and business disturbance and land take throughout Euston and Camden.

• No harmful impact on existing North London Line: safeguards passenger and freight operations.

• Avoids the current poor value for money HS2-HS1 scheme: with its low capacity and inability to be used by domestic services.

• Maximises international connectivity: direct passenger links between Euston and St Pancras.

• Option to reduce Old Oak interchange costs and complexity: potential to omit international platforms and include them within Euston Cross, if separate platforms are still necessary.

• A surface access solution for many airport hub and expansion schemes: supports projects currently being considered by the Davies Commission.

• Capacity for through domestic, as well as international, trains: between HS2/WCML and East London/Kent/East Anglia.

• Through trains achieve stronger economic benefits east of Central London: within the East & SE London, East Anglia and Kent priority growth areas.

• Future-proofed cross-London east-west rail capacity beyond Crossrail.

Other passenger benefits:

• 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 (Euston Cross would be accessible from all three existing termini)

• Relief of interchange pressure at Euston as HS2 load is distributed also across St Pancras and Kings Cross

• Direct Crossrail-WCML services for London and Home Counties commuters

• Direct London & Home Counties regional services, eg Milton Keynes-Kent.

Outline specification

Design principles

Build two rather than three single track tunnels from Old Oak Common, via Queens Park station, then under Regents Park to a new east-west deep station (Euston Cross) under the Northern ends of Euston, St Pancras and Kings Cross stations.

These two tunnels can then continue to join HS1 tunnels between Stratford and St Pancras.

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

The 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.

A lower scale of construction works would be needed to expand the Euston terminus approaches and any additional platforms, compared to HS2 proposals.

There would be no HS1-2 link from Primrose Hill to York Way, currently proposed by HS2 with severe impact through Camden.


WCML local suburban services would be diverted into Crossrail near Old Oak Common, as already being investigated by the DfT. This would save a number of Euston surface station platforms and make them available after adaptation for intercity or HS2 trains.

Remaining and revised commuter and longer distance trains via the existing WCML would continue to use Euston surface station. With a complementary ramp in the Kensal-Queens Park area, WCML trains could also traverse London via the Euston Cross route.

HS2 trains could go either to Euston surface station via a new incline at Queens Park, or into the deep station Euston Cross. Some could continue to Stratford and Ebbsfleet.

It is suggested that Euston Cross platforms could be adaptable for GC-gauge trains, while UK-gauge trains (the bulk of HS2 to begin with) could use Euston terminus or Euston Cross.

Operational flexibility

Much of Euston HS2’s land take is caused by the platform capacity required to handle an entire railway’s volume of terminating trains.

This is not needed on anything like this scale, if trains can continue towards HS1 via Euston Cross. A proportion of domestic and international high speed trains could continue to Stratford International and Ebbsfleet. Other domestic trains could terminate at Euston Cross, but continue to the Temple Mills spur for servicing and to reverse in the Eurostar depot.

A second connection east of Euston Cross might be relevant if the Davies Commission identifies an airport hub location east or north-East of London. In that case the Euston Cross route would have a major role as an airport connector from much of England as well as from the Home Counties.

For resilience and to mitigate occasions of perturbation, the dual platforming at Euston with the existing terminal and deep-level would create more service durability.

Through London & Home Counties regional trains should be feasible via Euston Cross, subject to timetabling and platform capacity. Frequency for those trains would be less than a standard ‘Crossrail’, as they would be a share of the Euston Cross tunnel capacity. However they would free up further space at Euston terminus for HS2 and replacement WCML trains.

Local impact

Environmental impact and residential impact would be less at Euston though passenger handling would still need to be addressed at this London station and related passenger links at St Pancras and Kings Cross.

Interchange handling would be easier by spreading the flows through three London stations and onto all their distribution networks including Thameslink.

The Kensal-Queens Park area would experience some additional impact because of the WCML connections to/from the HS2 tunnel, though this would be compensated by no impact in the Primrose Hill-Camden Road area as is currently expected.

There would be new intermediate ventilation and emergency exit shafts at different locations to the present proposal. The Old Oak Common eastbound HS2 tunnel design would be simpler.

Rebalancing costs

The main savings are:

• Proposed HS2 twin tunnels between Old Oak Common and Euston HS2 platforms.

• Proposed HS2-HS1 single-track tunnel between Old Oak Common and Primrose Hill.

• Surface works and surface mitigation between Primrose Hill, Camden Road and HS1 tunnel.

• Full-scale Euston HS2 terminus with all environmental, residential and business upheaval. Other community impacts reduced by the new Euston proposals.

• Euston interchange arrangements mitigated partially by some passenger interchange and onwards distribution being re-allocated to the St Pancras/Kings Cross area.

• Passenger and terminus capacity impacts of fewer commuter trains serving Euston terminus, after diversion of WCML local trains to Crossrail 1 and some WCML longer distance commuter trains to the Euston Cross route.

• Depot and servicing sidings savings if HS2 can use Temple Mills Eurostar depot.

The main new costs are:

• HS2 twin tunnels between Old Oak and Euston Cross, and on to HS1, via Queens Park (WCML and Euston terminus link) and under Regents Park to an new east-west deep-level station.

• Interchange works at St Pancras and Kings Cross.

• Connection works with HS1/Temple Mills.

Costs transferred between the previous scheme and the new one include:

• Reconstruction of Euston station with larger public area, to achieve greater integration with the surrounding community and green transport links.

• Passenger links between Euston and St Pancras/Kings Cross with Crossrail 2, and other public transport.

Operational matters

Handling services

HS2 has foreseen its timetable as 10 trains per hour (tph) covering ex-WCML flows, and 6 tph covering ex-East Midlands and ECML flows. Up to 12 trains per hour are foreseen on the ‘classic’ WCML, excluding the 8 suburban trains diverted to Crossrail 1 from near Willesden Junction. London Overground trains to Euston (3 tph) may or may not continue, or be diverted via Camden Road to Stratford.

This is a combined total of 28 tph approaching Euston, to be directed at Queens Park between the 2 approach tracks to Euston terminus (WCML slow and WCML fast) and the Euston Cross tunnel, an average of 9-10 tph per track. The through tunnel design for Euston Cross should accommodate a higher proportion of the total train volume.

Euston Cross station could be equipped with several platforms in each direction, eg two for UK-gauge intercity and WCML/London area services, and one (if required) for GC-gauge trains. This is similar to the arrangement at Berlin Hauptbahnhof, where trains to the same destination often use either the high or low level platforms. Continuation of the Euston Cross trains to other destinations or to reverse at Temple Mills Depot would reduce dwell time at the station and increase its hourly capacity.

The onwards links could be a connection with the HS1 tunnel (allowing access to HS1 and to Temple Mills depot), and a connection towards tracks to whichever non-Heathrow airport was selected as Britain’s new hub.

Would length of current Euston station platforms be sufficient for HS2 trains? Details of HS2 trains are not yet available; only a few platforms are capable of taking the 16 car sleeper services, but the existing platforms could probably be lengthened at the London end to take the continental length of two ICE or TGV train formations if these are thought necessary.

HS1 capacity

With all the trains running within a narrow speed band (140-186 mph) the capacity of HS1 should be capable of being enhanced to the same as HS2, i.e. 16 trains per hour per direction.

Economic and civic benefits

A modern interchange hub for the central London, with excellent links between the three main line stations, and with Underground, similar to Berlin Hauptbahnhof, Paris Chatelet etc.

Retains city centre terminus location, as preferred by HS2, and also allows through services across London to Stratford and beyond, helping regeneration of the eastern parts of London and Kent. Stratford is closer to Canary Wharf than Euston and is the hub for the east of London where economic regeneration is likely to be greater in the future compared with the west.

Improved Underground interchange at Euston Cross, allowing dispersal from HS2 to Thameslink the Piccadilly Line as well as existing tubes and Crossrail 2.

Retains good connections to Crossrail and other lines at Old Oak Common, as well as good interchange to Heathrow and wherever a future UK airport hub is located.

No need to demolish 500 properties etc West of Euston station, and no need for intrusive new line at Camden Road to connect HS1 to 2.

Dovetailing within HS2 project

Project timings

To change the station arrangements at the London end or elsewhere would probably add two years to the project. However, it is understood that the HS2 Euston construction project is on the critical path so other sections might be able to be opened sooner.

There is no reason why HS2 phase 1 should not be constructed and opened as far as Old Oak Common, with initial services terminating there, or with initial services returning to Euston terminus via Queens Park. With efficient turnround, the six platforms at Old Oak could be sufficient for the first couple of years (eg, arrive, turn round and depart in 20-30 minutes).

Construction of the link tunnels as far as Queens Park would need to be completed physically since tunnel boring is required to start at OOC. However the Euston Cross route and tunnels could be constructed from a tunnel boring site at Queens Park so could be timed independently of the rest of HS2 phase 1.

So OOC to HS1 could be a separate hybrid bill, or added to the existing one if that gets delayed due to a decision to include the northern ‘Y’ parts in it as well.

Overall, there is no reason why a new layout at the London end should delay the start of services at least from OOC to Birmingham and the North West.

Next steps

The Secretary of State is requested to alter the remit of HS2 to consider urgently an alternative option for the lines East of Old Oak Common station providing for a better connection to Euston, less disruption and demolition of properties in that area, through running via a Euston low level (Euston Cross) to HS1 and beyond, and avoiding the necessity to build a HS1-2 connection through the Camden Road area.

HS1 should also be requested to form a steering group of stakeholder representatives to ensure maximum speed and decision making.

The Davies Commission should be asked to include Euston Cross proposals in its consideration of surface access options for future UK airport capacity.

Bill Bradshaw/Tony Berkeley, House of Lords, February 2013, acknowledging with thanks advice from Jonathan Roberts.


Les F   26/04/2013 at 15:16

Good that influential rail people are questioning the wisdom of the current HS2 plan. Unfortunately, they forget that train flows from Euston/St P/KX are unidirectionally northwards. Few of the HS passengers arriving from the north will want to continue beyond central London, so most of the trains would have to terminate at a vast multi-platform underground cavern. Apart from costing more (stations form 25% of the HS2 construction estimate) it is beyond the expertise of engineers to build it without endangering the buildings above. Euston Cross falls into the same trap as HS2 by assuming that all HS trains need to run through Old Oak Common. Whilst OOC has a bright future as an interchange with Xrail, it is not necessary for a high speed line to do a rail tour of London in tunnel in order to call there, and then be so far west that it has to go through the Chilterns AONB (yet more tunnel) to go north. HS1 in Kent was not built to the route put forward initially; it has finished up with 85% of it running alongside older railways or motorways or in tunnel. The objectors are happy with the outcome. We have not learned the lesson. What is needed is a reappraisal of HS2 by rail experts not tied to DfT or HS2 Ltd. This could reassure a sceptical public that the HS2 plan is tight, or more likely to reveal that wrong decisions from the outset have produced a disastrously bad plan. Only Patrick McLoughlin can commission that reappraisal.

Les F   26/04/2013 at 15:21

Correction: second to last sentence, I meant "right" not "tight".

Dan Salmon   27/05/2013 at 22:42

The Euston Cross plan just seems to shift the demolition from the West of Euston Station to the East. Very doubtful that you could build a huge subterranean station beneath the old load bearing buildings of Somerstown without demolishing most of them first.

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