die belebende Bedenkung

Reimagining Euston

with 5 comments

Euston Estate, problem buildings

Although the concrete coffin that now masquerades as Euston station concourse was designed by faceless architect bureaucrats buried deep within the old British Rail, Richard Seifert was responsible for the miserable range of polished, dark stone-clad offices arranged around its entrance forecourt, wrote Ike Ijeh (“The notorious work of Richard Seifert”, 5 Nov 2011).

But according to Cabe lead advisor Thomas Bender, Euston station represents the functional rigour and order of 1960s modernism.

[‘In defence of… Euston Station’, Thomas Bender]

Everything is efficient, easy on the eye and elegantly designed; from the geometric rhythm of the ceiling to the clear and legible routes to the platforms, and even the layout of the ticket office. Even the first glimpse of the station, across the charming little park along Euston Road, makes it feel open and accessible.

As Mr Bender suggested, the station would be a much nicer place if its Railtrack / Network Rail clutter were stripped out. The quality of the space in front of the station could be transformed if the ‘Euston Estate‘ offices, mainly built in the late 1970s, were demolished.

At present, Euston’s onward local public transport connections are poor. If HS2 were cancelled, funds could be reallocated to divert inner suburban / Watford ‘dc lines’ trains into Crossrail 1 at Willesden, which would free up space at Euston. It would also be possible to fund

  • diversion of outer suburban (London Midland) trains into a “Crossrail X2” connection with the Southern Region
  • separation of the Northern and Northern & City underground lines, allowing train frequency on both to be increased
  • on-street light rail from Camden to Waterloo, the City, and Victoria.
The 'Crossrail X2' concept combines elements of the 1970s Chelsea - Hackney tube and 1980 BR Cross London link schemes

The ‘Crossrail_X2’ concept combines elements of the 1970s Chelsea – Hackney tube and 1980 BR Cross London link schemes

Diversion of suburban services into Crossrail 1 and Crossrail_X2 would allow Euston’s track layout to be re-cast for longer platforms. If Old Oak Common became the terminus for the Scottish sleeper and Birmingham / Manchester intercity, only 12 to 14 platforms at Euston might be needed.

Written by beleben

March 26, 2014 at 8:21 pm

Posted in High speed rail, HS2, London

5 Responses

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  1. Barely 4Km of tunnelling would be required if the Crossrail X2 route went from Euston to Charing Cross, and thence to Waterloo – combining this work with the demolition and redevelopment of Elizabeth House and York Road.

    LOROL services from Watford Junction to Clapham Junction via Euston & Waterloo could extend via East Putney to Wimbledon, removing capacity draining reversals at Waterloo and Euston, and operating inner London ‘locals’ with the Metro stock (378) of LOROL which would provide welcome capacity between Clapham Junction and Putney, and serve Queenstown Road leaving the outer area services (and Loopers) to run directly in to Waterloo.

    From the North a connection from the Chiltern route at South Hampstead (where there remains some of the original provision to build 2 x 2 track tunnels to Marylebone, would provide additional services to get an intensive frequency of services Euston-Charing Cross dispersing to send outer area services from Milton Keynes and Bedford, using extended Tring services via Bletchley and replacing the diesel service on Marston Vale, plus a possible service from Bletchley via Aylesbury and then sending those services out to Ashford (Kent) Reading and Basingstoke, as although running via London the rail journey times would be competitive with driving around the M25.

    The East City Thameslink might be slightly trickier but I suspect not impossible – connecting Moorgate GN&CR with Cannon Street, and taking the crowded trains from Hertford and Potters Bar through to do the Deptford Loop, and again using Metro stock for its efficient handling of high passenger volumes.

    Dave H (@BCCletts)

    March 26, 2014 at 10:43 pm

    • This is a much more cost effective proposal than the London First Crossrail 2, which is based on one of the lines from the 1946 Railway (London Committee) report.

      I prefer a combination of the 1941 (Andrew Dow) & 1980 (BR Board) proposals with three short new lines for (1) Waterloo – Liverpool Street, (2) Victoria – Euston and (3) Charing Cross – Marylebone.

      The FAST outer commuter services should be be connected via these new lines. Expensive intermediate stations should be kept to a minimum (i.e. only for connection to Crossrail or Thameslink).

      Once build, the (greatly relieved) tube lines could be extended to take over inner suburban services. For example, the Victoria line could run to Croydon and/or Wimbledon.

      The Watford Jn – Euston LOROL services could be connected to the East London line (as proposed in one of the first Atkins report)

      Fast, long distance commuter services to Birmingham would be available on 2 lines from central London without the need to change trains at Euston or Marylebone – thus producing improved door-to-door journey times without the need for HS2.


      March 27, 2014 at 4:15 pm

      • Yes, London First‘s Crossrail 2 is a bizarre project. If expensive main-line-size tunnels are going to be built under London, surely they should run on to surface railways. But, London First want to build a dead-end Crossrail 2 branch up to Alexandra Palace.


        March 27, 2014 at 10:07 pm

  2. […] (outside the capital) was an afterthought. A much better cross-London proposition would be to build Crossrail_X2 and run regional trains from north of London to Maidstone, Tunbridge Wells, […]

    • There is a good article on the London Reconnections blog explaining why the off-peak service on Crossrail 1 will be very poor – basically due to mixed traffic operation on the Reading & Shenfield branches. Crossrail 2 as proposed is very expensive but TfL will have sole use of the line.

      A UK freight network that is operationaly separate from the high density parts of the passenger network (but is available for engineering/emergency use), would provide a much cheaper alternative to both HS2 and Crossrail 2.


      April 3, 2014 at 9:06 am

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