‘Passengers from HS2 to the Continent are set to trudge along Euston Road for the next 50 years’
The Government, having rightly cancelled its own HS1-2 link in the HS2 Bill as being not fit for purpose, plans to get the Commons to prevent the HS2 select committee from discussing any future alternative link. Whilst it is reasonable to avoid discussion on the link that is removed, to prevent petitions discussion in the Select Committee on alternative routes – or passive provision for them – means that there will be no chance in the future of connecting HS2 at its main interchange station at Old Oak Common (OOC) to any other station in London or to HS1.
This is because HS2 has rightly maintained that all tunnelling from OOC eastwards must start from there because there is nowhere suitable to erect a tunnel boring machine (TBM) near Euston or beyond. Since the TBMs must be erected on what is to be the future station platform area at OOC, any tunnelling works clearly must be completed before the station is fitted out and trains can operate from there up HS2 and to Euston. If there is ever to be a link to join up with HS1, either a single or double track, then this will also need to be in tunnel, starting from OOC. If there is to be a junction further east in the tunnel from OOC to Euston, then this also needs building before fitting out.
There are many options for the route of a HS1-2 link, including directly to Stratford with or without central London station(s), the Euston Cross proposal promoted by Lords Bradshaw and Berkeley which could provide such a link if the HS2 tunnels to Euston are moved to join the west Coast Main Line in the Queens Park area, but for good passenger interchange, a link to HS1 serving OOC is highly desirable.
Lord Berkeley commented ‘there clearly needs to be some rethinking of the route and purpose of the HS1-2 link, and the extent to which it should take regional trains (eg an East-West Thameslink-type service, and high gauge freight) but without even petitions and a debate in Select committee about passive provision for such a link at or near OOC, it looks as if HS2 passengers wanting to go to Paris will still be trudging along Euston road to St Pancras for the next 50 years’
‘I will be writing to MPs and ministers urging them to amend this Instruction from the Commons to the Select Committee to allow petitions and discussion on alternatives to the now cancelled HS1 link.
1. Details of parliamentary papers are on http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmagenda/fb140410.pdf, paragraph 29, instruction to Select Committee,
‘2. The Committee shall not hear any Petition to the extent that it relates to whether or not there should be a spur from Old Oak Common to the Channel Tunnel Rail Link.’
This should be amended to allow petitions on provisions for alternative links to HS1.
2. Lord Berkeley, with Lord Bradshaw, have proposed an alternative arrangement for HS2 to terminate at Euston using the existing approaches and station extended southwards. This would also require the two tunnels from Old Oak common to be diverted Northwards to join the West Coast Main Line near Queens Park station. They believe that this can be achieved without any significant permanent land take in the area. This will be subject to a separate petition.
3. Lord Berkeley is chairman of the Rail Freight Group