WHAT ABOUT THE LINK BETWEEN HS2 (EUSTON) AND HS1 (ST PANCRAS)?
The question comes up frequently - if you site the HS2 terminus at Euston, what are you going to do about connectivity to High Speed 1? It’s a controversial topic because at one stage it was likely that there would be a link between HS2 and HS1, then the idea was scrapped. And as recently as last year, many of us thought the idea would come back again. So why are there no plans for a link?
Lord Adonis, the Secretary of State for Transport who announced HS2 back in 2009, gave a compelling answer to that very question in the House of Commons on January 10.
Baroness Randerson wanted to understand the reasons why plans for a link between HS1 and HS2 had been dropped. She said that, while she acknowledged the practical and costly difficulties of having a link, there are “huge practical difficulties associated with the proposed - and very costly - Euston development, but that does not seem to have deterred the Government or HS2 Ltd”. She asked: “Why were the original plans to link HS1 to HS2 dropped and, importantly, could they be taken up again if demand was at such a level that that would be justified, and what firm plans exist for the trek along Euston Road?”
Adonis answered first by separating the two issues. The first being through trains from Paris to the Midlands and further north. The second being the “lamentable” connections between Euston and St Pancras.
On the first point he said: “The economic case for running through services from Paris and Brussels to Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds is very weak indeed.”
He continued: “Although HS1 has been a great success in engineering terms and has played a useful part in linking two of Europe’s great cities, it is way off all the projections of traffic between London and the continent. I do not think it is yet even at half the level of the projections of what the traffic should have been. There is still only one service an hour between London and Paris for most of the day. Often, those services have quite light loads.”
Adonis said it was “important to be frank about this because everybody pays lip service to the benefits of linking HS1 and HS2”.
“On the face of it, it seems absurd that there is not a connection between the two, but because the service would be so intermittent - with the best will in the world, only a few trains a day would run on that service - I very much doubt it would be taken up in any big way. While we have cheap airlines that offer very frequent services to Manchester and Birmingham - both are highly successful airports, which are expanding and have significant capacity that they can make available for flights to the continent - it is unlikely that such a line would be viable.”
So what about the trek along Euston Road?
Said Adonis: “Although this degree of work has not yet been done, my assumption with the planning of Crossrail 2 is always that it will be possible to use it also as a pedestrian tunnel, with a travelator for getting from Euston to St Pancras.
“The transport planners are not wildly keen on that idea because it will add to the cost of Crossrail 2 and they want a more limited scheme that has access only for transport users. But it’s obvious that if you have a Crossrail 2 station serving the two stations, and you have this underground link, putting in a simple travelator and making it possible for people to connect between the two stations underground must be sensible.”
He finished: “It has to be said that, at the moment, this issue still does not have a satisfactory resolution… Passengers cannot be expected to put up with the current state of connectivity between Euston and King’s Cross St Pancras. It should be incumbent on the Government, the mayor, TfL and HS2 to see that there are better links for that period between the opening of HS2 at Euston and the completion of Crossrail 2. As I say, that is the only long-term solution to this issue.”