HS2 and Crossrail 1 crowding
Recent speculation about HS2 de-scoping has included the possibility of terminating the line at Old Oak Common, instead of Euston. There is certainly enough land at Old Oak, but transport links to central London are not particularly good.
According to HS2 Ltd, with stations at Old Oak and Euston, about two-thirds of high speed passengers would use Euston, but of course HS2 Ltd is not a reliable or objective source of information. The real balance of advantage is not clear, because no detail is available on things like dwell time of HS2 trains at Old Oak, or the length and characteristics of the interchange at the two locations. If stopping very high speed trains twice in under 10 miles is such a good idea, why don’t Eurostar trains stop at Stratford “International”? How about domestic TGV trains? Do TGV Nord trains stop at St Denis?
Two oft-repeated objections to terminating HS2 at Old Oak are:
- ‘Crossrail 1 would be unable to handle the totality of HS2 traffic heading to and from central London’
- ‘If Crossrail 1 “broke down”, HS2 passengers would have no alternative means of getting to and from central London’.
Objection: ‘Crossrail 1 would be unable to handle the totality of HS2 traffic heading to and from central London’
Crossrail 1 is intended to operate twenty-four 205-metre trains per hour per direction on its trunk section, each of which would be able to carry 1,500 passengers.
As can be seen from Transport for London’s diagram (below), with 24 trains per hour operating east of Old Oak (36,000 pphpd), the entirety of HS2 Phase One passengers headed into central London could be accommodated on Crossrail.
What about HS2 Phase Two? Well, Crossrail 1 is also supposed to have a ‘Phase Two’, in which train frequency would increase to 30 per hour, and trainset length would increase to 250 metres.
Objection: ‘If Crossrail 1 “broke down”, HS2 passengers would have no alternative means of getting to and from central London’
One might as well ask, if HS2 “broke down”, how would long distance passengers make their journey to the North of England? The ‘weakest link’ would not be the 4 miles east of Old Oak, it would be the 90+ miles north-west of Old Oak.
Clearly, if HS2 Old Oak — Euston were not built, there would be enormous resources freed up to improve local rail links between Old Oak and other parts of the capital (including Camden). Creating better links between west and central London (e.g. Overground and tram) would perform much better in cost-benefit and social equity, than the white-elephant HS2 tunnel.
And if HS2 Old Oak — Birmingham were not built, there would be would be enormous resources freed up to improve existing main and secondary railways, across the whole of Great Britain.