HS2 Higgins report welcomed

Lord Berkeley

David Higgins’ Review had some very sensible suggestions, including extending the line to Crewe at an early stage to avoid the traffic jam that would be caused by all those trains from HS2 and WCML converging onto the WCML there. I also welcome the removing the HS1-2 link; it was never fit for purpose, either for passenger or freight.

From a railway operating point of view, Bill Bradshaw and I have demonstrated that the existing Euston station and approaches can cater for all the HS2 as well as WCML trains, except the suburban ones to be diverted straight into Crossrail via a link to Old Oak Common. So why go to the massive expense and disruption of lowering the level of the Euston platforms and building new ones just in order to have a deck above which is level with the adjacent roads? We also propose a deck above the existing station, along with lengthened platforms at the south end. Either way, the deck can provide excellent new passenger facilities as well as unlimited developer opportunities above; all it will need to be passenger-friendly are some escalators, which are much cheaper than lowering an operating station by 5m or so!

There is no need to demolish hundreds of properties to the West of Euston and its approaches for railway reasons. By all means re-erect the Euston Arch, but to widen the development beyond the footprint of what is required for the railway seems more of an ego trip than a necessity!

The Euston approaches are well designed for efficient operation. All that is required is to divert the HS2 tunnels from Old Oak Common to join the West Coast Main Line near Queens Park station, all within the railway boundary, and use the existing approaches to Euston or to the North London Line for the international trains to HS1. The tracks are there, pity they sold the trains to SNCF.

There are many questions to be asked, and we shall now seek to meet Sir David to discuss these issues. It is certainly good that he recognises that more work needs to be done to find a suitable solution to the Euston station issue and the link to HS! And that he intends to approach it in an inclusive manner.

Tony Berkeley