die belebende Bedenkung

Misunderstanding at bursting point

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St Pancras station, platform disposition for HS1

St Pancras station, platform disposition for HS1

At a fringe event at Labour’s annual conference in Manchester, Shadow transport secretary Mary Creagh said the party was “very, very keen” to look at how more responsibility could be handed to regions, as part of the devolution debate emerging after the Scottish independence referendum. Devolving London-style transport powers to the regions could ‘improve integration of HS2 with rail links in the north’.

[‘Devolve transport powers to improve HS2 integration, says Labour’, Edd Gent, E&T, 22 September 2014]

She said: “It (HS2) has to be better integrated with rail in the north, that’s for sure. The parkway stations … it has to link in better with our rail system and our bus system. The problem we have outside London is that no other region or transport authority has the same powers that London has to integrate.

When asked at the event, chaired by Sky News, why the project could not be put on the back burner given other pressing transport priorities the former shadow environment secretary stressed that some train services were at bursting point and said if the project was scrapped the money would not be spent on transport.

She said: “It is really important that we listen to the transport planners who are telling us about the way the railway is growing at 5 per cent a year and the fact that some of our train services are already operating at 175 per cent capacity.

“We have got very, very big problems ahead on the railways if we don’t plan to increase our capacity. It’s not popular in my constituency. I’m not out of touch. There is no Westminster elite in this room.

“(But) Nobody says that about the Channel Tunnel rail link now though there was absolutely years of planning, of fights, of challenge, of blight around that process. Nobody now says we shouldn’t have built the Channel Tunnel rail link through to Brussels and Paris.

The truth, of course, is that

1. most rail capacity shortfalls concern travel within an 80 km radius of central London (especially south and east of the centre).

2. HS2 is just about the least cost-effective way of increasing railway capacity that could be devised.

3. HS2 connectivity in London would not be much better than in the regions. There is no RER-type access to Euston, nor are there plans for good local rail access to Old Oak Common (apart from Crossrail 1 to the City and Canary Wharf).

4. HS1, the Channel Tunnel rail link, was a disastrous botch, and should never have been built.

  • Its full “20 trains per hour” line capacity can never be used, because there is insufficient platforming at St Pancras.
  • Its benefits for Kent commuters are scant, because of its absurd routeing (by-passing Maidstone, for example).
  • Its benefits for Essex commuters are zero, because it does not have any station in the county.
  • And its gradients mean that it cannot be competitive for railfreight.

Written by beleben

September 22, 2014 at 11:43 am

Posted in High speed rail, HS2, London

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2 Responses

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  1. “3. HS2 connectivity in London would not be much better than in the regions. There is no RER-type access to Euston, nor are there plans for good local rail access to Old Oak Common (apart from Crossrail 1 to the City and Canary Wharf).”

    I very much fail to comprehend you here because Euston does have quite a considerable array of onward local and national rail connections provided by the entire Euston-St-Pancras-King’s-Cross site. Once a suitable dedicated link between them is built (as part of the RER-style Crossrail 2 plan at least) passengers from the entire Thameslink network will have single-change access, as will anyone on the Metropolitan, Hammersmith & City, Circle, Northern (both branches), Piccadilly and Victoria lines. With Crossrail 2, access will be extended to the south-western and north-eastern networks. At Old Oak Common, there will be onward access to the whole of the Great Western and Crossrail networks as every train will stop there, while TfL are formulating plans to connect the Overground networks. TfL’s bus network in west London will become focussed on Old Oak Common so there will be plenty of very local onward connectivity as well.

    HS1 does deliver benefits to commuters in the South East of England through the removal of Eurostar services from local tracks and from the extra Javelin services. If it had stopped in Maidstone it would be criticised for having yet another white elephant station like Stratford (whose concrete box was necessary for access to Temple Mills depot and construction of the two tunnels) or Ebbsfleet.


    September 27, 2014 at 9:33 pm

    • The capacity and decongestion value of HS1 is low (e.g. only around 2 international trains in each direction per hour).

      Neither Crossrail 2 nor a London Overground station at Old Oak Common are currently funded. If it’s so easy to access Kings Cross St Pancras from Euston why is there all the fuss about building a HS1 to HS2 tunnel? Even Euston Square seems too far for Andrew Adonis.


      September 28, 2014 at 10:00 am

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